the lead reviewer is misleading when he calls tis dark-horse "Kullervo" form a virtually unknown orchestra and conductor plodding. Plodding can be a state of mind, of course, or a prevailing mood. But objectively speaking, Ari Rasilainen's tempos are faster than Vanska's by a considerable margin, faster on the hole than Segerstam's second recording, keeping pace with the quickest one I know, from Colin Davis and the London Sym. on LSO Live. Since he is presumably Finnish, the conductor knows is way around this work. If any criticism comes to mind immediately, it's that he might not seem weighty enough, and his musicians, although committed to the performance, aren't first rate (the same can certainly be said of the orchestras that Segerstam and, in particular, Vanska lead).
But we don't need to clutch at straws -- this is a very assured, well recorded "kullervo." As is well known by now, the composer suppressed the work, and to be honest, it has its slack moments and stretches of uninspired writing. The allure for me comes in that unmistakable Sibelius sound, here not fully mature but nonetheless expressive of vast Northern spaces and primal nature worship. Both vocal soloists and the male choir are Finnish and at times pleasingly rough and rustic. The male university choir in particular has no professional polish. But the conducting is always forthright and authentic. I can't see any objection to this satisfying reading, and the sound, as heard in two-channel stereo, is fine.
Satu Vihavainen (soprano) & Juha Uusitalo (bass-baritone)
KYL-Male Chorus, Kauppakorkeakoulun Ylioppilaskuknnan Laulajat & Staatsphilharmonie Rheinland-Pfalz, Ari Rasilainen