WORKS: Pelléas et Mélisande Suite; Scène historique Suite No. 1; Scène historique Suite No. 2
PERFORMER: Danish National RSO/Leif Segerstam
CATALOGUE NO: CHAN 9483
Like father, like son? Neeme Järvi takes 49:24 minutes over Sibelius’s Lemminkäinen Suite on his 1985 BIS recording, Parvo Järvi, in his debut recording for Virgin, a mere second less. But this is no mere copycat performance and, if anything, is even finer. The younger Järvi reveals his own sense of adventure, a natural skill for bringing out the Sibelian line and his intricately mapped-out symphonic progress, together with a feeling for the music’s Nordic atmosphere and of a tale being told, especially in the second movement, the ubiquitous ‘The Swan of Tuonela’. The couplings to Lemminkäinen, too, are imbued with the same qualities and the superb playing of the RSPO is caught in full bloom by the recording.
Segerstam’s reissued Sibelius symphony cycle (on Chandos) is reviewed this month in Special Editions, but this new disc pairs two of the composer’s lesser-known suites, derived from the same occasion for which Finlandia was written, with the masterly music Sibelius wrote for Maeterlinck’s Pelléas et Mélisande, and it’s a great success. Segerstam and his Danish players bring warmth and a blazing ardour to the suites’ various movements – not one is below-par Sibelius – and the sound is extremely vivid. Matthew Rye