SIBELIUS: SYMPHONIES NOS. 2 & 5
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Code: BIS SACD 1986
|ARTISTS: Minnesota Orchestra, Osmo Vänskä, conductor
It was with performances and recordings of the music of Jean Sibelius, his great compatriot, that the Finnish conductor Osmo Vänskä first attracted the attention of a wider international audience. Beginning in the early 1990s, seminal recordings with the Lahti Symphony Orchestra of tone poems and the seven symphonies became synonymous with a new interpretative approach to the composer’s music, with words such as ‘clarity’, ‘intensity’ and ‘freshness’ reappearing in review after review. Vänskä has remained true to Sibelius (and BIS), and recordings made by him over the past 20 years form the backbone of the label’s newly completed Sibelius Edition, but in the meantime his international career has also flourished, including a highly successful partnership with the Minnesota Orchestra. On disc this has resulted in an acclaimed cycle of Beethoven’s symphonies, and most recently with a recording of Bruckner’s Fourth (‘Romantic’) Symphony, which in Pizzicato Magazine was described as ‘exceptional… without doubt one of the finest recordings of the work…’ Now, some 15 years after the appearance of his previous cycle of Sibelius’s symphonies, Vänskä has returned to the works in recording, and with his Minnesota players he has recorded the first disc in a new cycle. The Sibelius expert Robert Layton, in his introduction to the programme, presents the Second Symphony as ‘the symphony by which many music lovers find their way to Sibelius’, and in his discussion of the Fifth he quotes the composer himself, in a comment about symphonic form: ‘a river with innumerable tributaries feeding it before it broadens majestically and flows into the sea’.