CLASSICAL: PROM 40 Royal Albert Hall London / Radio 3 Oo999
Jack, Adrian, The Independent (London, England)
When you hear something as perfectly focused as Sibelius's Third Symphony, it's almost shocking to discover how bewildering his options often were in the process of composition. He seems to have produced a deep reservoir of music from which he could draw pieces that were, at one and the same time, closely connected and very different.
The Lahti Symphony Orchestra, from Finland, introduced an early version of Sibelius's tone poem The Oceanides (the so-called Yale version, already on one of its CDs) that offered a radically different sound picture from the final version: murmuring, flickering, all muted, with a threatening undertow. It was also shorter and less powerful, yet invited reverie in its unexpected continuity, and was beautifully delicate in its orchestral dress.
It can only be healthy to be reminded that Sibelius's music was not hewn irrevocably out of rock, and indeed, even in something so decisive as the Third Symphony, there is room for a sense of creative fluidity. Sibelius even used the word "chaos", though the way in which Osmo Vanska rounded up his players in the gathering storm was notably energetic and concentrated. The whole work was beautifully played, with surprisingly sonorous strings considering their moderate numbers. …