Sibelius: En saga; Night Ride and Sunrise; Pohjola’s Daughter; The Oceanides; The Bard; The Dryad; Dance-Intermezzo, Op. 45/2

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4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Sibelius
LABELS: BIS
WORKS: En saga; Night Ride and Sunrise; Pohjola’s Daughter; The Oceanides; The Bard; The Dryad; Dance-Intermezzo, Op. 45/2
PERFORMER: Lahti SO/Osmo Vänskä
CATALOGUE NO: CD-1225
Osmo Vänskä has already recorded The Wood Nymph, Tapiola and the 1892 version of En saga. This CD contains the remaining tone poems – with the exception of Pan and Echo. Vänskä is one of the finest of all Sibelius conductors, sure of instinct and firm in his handling of pace and structure, so that this collection will be eagerly sought after. In En saga phrasing is natural and unforced, and tempo perfectly judged. My only reservation is that the pianissimo sul ponticello string passage eight minutes in is exaggerated, as are some other of his whispered dynamics right at the end. Vänskä’s account of Pohjola’s Daughter is quite magnificent, and would sweep the board were it not again for the tiresomely affected ppp at 7:30 mins and again at the very end, in which the strings lose both colour and timbre. Again in Night Ride and Sunrise pacing is superb and the final sunrise is magnificent and beautifully sustained. Some may not be as worried by the dynamic excesses, and there is no questioning the authority that this artist brings to this repertoire. Ultimately in both The Oceanides and Night Ride, the LSO and Colin Davis remain unchallenged and among recent issues Oramo and the CBSO give very convincing accounts of The Bard and Pohjola’s Daughter. Robert Layton

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