Sibelius: Symphony No. 6; Symphony No. 7; The Tempest Suite No. 2

Our rating 
5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

WORKS: Symphony No. 6; Symphony No. 7; The Tempest Suite No. 2
PERFORMER: Iceland SO/Petri Sakari
CATALOGUE NO: 8.554387
This Icelandic Sibelius cycle under Petri Sakari is going very well. Looking back, I see I wrote earlier in the year of Nos 4 and 5 as ‘straightforward and unaffected, dedicated and selfless, and free from interpretative point-making’ – and the same goes for these performances. You feel completely safe with this conductor in the driving seat, confident that you will be given a truthful view of the musical landscape. The Sixth Symphony is among the most satisfying we have had for some little time. It is as thoughtful and as well shaped as some of the best and although the Icelandic orchestra is not in the same league as the Berlin Philharmonic or the LSO, they are far from negligible. The Seventh is very powerful, spacious and broad in approach – not quite as intense as Maazel (Decca) or Colin Davis but eminently satisfying. The second of the Tempest suites is also touched by distinction (the ‘Chorus of the Winds’ sounds quite magical) and full of atmosphere. On the back of the disc we are told that The Tempest presented a new challenge after so many years devoted to the composition of symphonies and enabled him to reflect his own feelings. I can’t imagine anything more personal than the Sixth. Never mind, this is Sakari’s finest Sibelius disc yet, and the well-balanced sound does credit to all concerned. And all at budget price too. Robert Layton