For Jean Sibelius, Rakastava was one of his favourite works. He originally wrote it for male choir, and later also for string orchestra. Einojuhani Rautavaara was a worthy heir to Sibelius’ throne. His piece Sommarnatten has a folk music sound. We´ll also hear music by Estonian composer Veljo Tormis, one of the great choral composers of our time. Pushkin’s Garland was Giorgij Sviridov´s offering for the poet’s 180th anniversary. We also get a wonderful taste of Lidholm´s great treasure trove of choral music.

The concert will be broadcasted at the Swedish Radio P2, Friday, February 25 at 8:20 pm.


dot 2021/2022





32 professional choristers make up the Swedish Radio Choir: a unique, dynamic instrument hailed by music-lovers and critics all over the world. The Swedish Radio Choir performs at Berwaldhallen, concert hall of the Swedish Radio, as well as on tours all over the country and the world. Also, they are heard regularly by millions of listeners on Swedish Radio P2, Berwaldhallen Play and globally through the EBU.

The award-winning Latvian conductor Kaspars Putniņš was appointed Chief Conductor of the Swedish Radio Choir in 2020. Since January 2019, its choirmaster is French orchestral and choral conductor Marc Korovitch, with responsibility for the choir’s vocal development.

The Swedish Radio Choir was founded in 1925, the same year as Sweden’s inaugural radio broadcasts, and gave its first concert in May that year. Multiple acclaimed and award-winning albums can be found in the choir’s record catalogue. Late 2023 saw the release of Kaspars Putniņš first album with the choir: Robert Schumann’s Missa sacra, recorded with organist Johan Hammarström.


Approximate timings

Soloists: Jennie Eriksson Nordin, soprano & Karl Söderström, bass

Apart from the seven unearthly poems and several equally delightful symphonic poems, the Finnish composer Jean Sibelius wrote many choral works. Choral music was a common thread throughout his life. He wrote his first choral songs in the 1880s, when he was studying composition at the Helsinki academy of music (later the Sibelius Academy). He wrote his last songs in 1954, at the age of 89.


After his success with his first major choral work, Venematka, in 1893, he went on the following year to compose his potentially most ground-breaking and most frequently performed a capella work, Rakastava. The text is taken from the first volume of Kanteletar, a collection of lyrical, epic folk poems and ballads, a companion work to the national epic of Finland, Kalevala, both by the Finnish author Elias Lönnrot.


To a contemporary listener, the music is light on the ear, but together with Venematka, Rakastava was at the time an important gateway to an entirely new era in Finnish choral music. They were technically difficult and overwhelmingly modern ¬– almost strange. One critic wrote: “Sibelius’s songs are very strange. The first time you hear them you can hardly make them out, although on closer examination you find a great deal of beauty. […] But most beautiful of all is Rakastava, despite some odd and impudent harmonies that you are tempted to assume are misprints.”


Like many of Sibelius’s choral works from the 1890s, Rakastava was originally written for man’s choir. Five years later, in 1898, Sibelius rearranged the piece for mixed choir, and in 1911 he created an instrumental version for string orchestra. The year 1898 was also when five of his works for mixed choir were published in a volume entitled Sävelistö, kaikuja laulustamme (roughly translated as A collection of melodies, echoes of our singing), among them was Rakastava.


Hedvig Ljungar

Approximate concert length: 1 hour, no intermission

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