Sibelius: Finlandia; Karelia Suite; Luonnotar; Tapiola; En Saga

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5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

WORKS: Finlandia; Karelia Suite; Luonnotar; Tapiola; En Saga
PERFORMER: Elisabeth Söderström (soprano); Philharmonia Orchestra/Vladimir Ashkenazy
CATALOGUE NO: 430 757-2 DDD (1981/83/86)
These are splendid performances. Finlandia and Karelia are magnificently recorded, with rasping brass, crisp timpani and supple cor anglais breathing air into the central ballade. Dying phrases are beautifully honed – there is magic afoot. Elisabeth Söderström sings the neglected, Yeatsian Luonnotar irreproachably, the Magyar inflections of Finnish curiously echoing Bartók. Tapiola, akin to the wastelands of Sibelius’s Fourth Symphony, is a brute to shape. Ashkenazy’s grunts imply a tussle, but these alert musicians supply all he seeks. Roderic Dunnett