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Vänskä and his orchestra are utterly at home with the scores, but never routine or matter of fact. From the poignant harp chords that begin The Bard to the restless Night Ride and Sunrise every... —
Lahti Symphony Orchestra Osmo Vänskä
Sibelius: The Dryad, Op. 45 No. 1
Work length5:14 Lahti Symphony Orchestra Osmo Vänskä
Sibelius: Dance Intermezzo, Op. 45 No. 2
Work length2:49 Lahti Symphony Orchestra Osmo Vänskä
Sibelius: Pohjola's Daughter, Op. 49
Work length13:25 Lahti Symphony Orchestra Osmo Vänskä
Sibelius: Night Ride and Sunrise, Op. 55
Work length17:35 Lahti Symphony Orchestra Osmo Vänskä
Sibelius: The Bard, Op. 64
Work length7:43 Lahti Symphony Orchestra Osmo Vänskä
Sibelius: The Oceanides, Op. 73
Work length10:17 Lahti Symphony Orchestra Osmo Vänskä
20th November 2002
Vänskä and his orchestra are utterly at home with the scores, but never routine or matter of fact. From the poignant harp chords that begin The Bard to the restless Night Ride and Sunrise every gesture counts, and every sound is beautifully caught...this latest offering from BIS is brilliant, one of the best recordings of Sibelius I've heard for a long time.
Anyone who has already encountered the Lahti/Vänskä partnership in Sibelius will know to expect performances of great vitality and freshness. And the expectation is fully met – perhaps even surpassed; in these tone poems he simply allows his profound grasp of musical inner workings to dictate the course of events. The trenchant Lahti strings, the ecstatically floating woodwind and the rasping brass all play their part. But while their contributions are gripping in their own right, they're the more impressive for being so precisely placed at the service of the music's larger-scale unfolding.
Each of the longer works feels as though composer and performers alike have imagined them in one huge mental breath. Vänskä knows exactly when and how much to hold back, when to push on, and, crucially, when simply to stand back and let the music tick over to the beat of some higher rhythm. The same sense of inevitability informs the more compact masterpieces – The Dryad and the extraordinarily cryptic The Bard. Only the Dance-Intermezzo, companion piece to The Dryad, is in any way negligible.
All the other tone poems have been recorded many times over, but rarely with such a consistent feeling of idiomatic rightness. (Vänskä himself has recorded the 1892 original version of En Saga as well – coupled with the original Fifth Symphony on a Gramophone Award-winning set, reviewed under Symphony No 5 – and a fascinating contrast it makes with the more compact 1902 revision offered here.) BIS's recording is of demonstration quality. An outstanding release.