Magazine article Gramophone

Sibelius

Magazine article Gramophone

Sibelius

Article excerpt

Sibelius [G]

Tapiola, Op 112. En saga, Op 9.

Eight Songs (orch Sallinen) (a)

(a) Anne Sofie von Otter mez Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra / Hannu Lintu

Ondine (F) [SACD] ODE1289-5 (55' * DDD/DSD * T/t)

'I haven't seen the ancient forests of Northern Finland but I still think I do a pretty convincing Tapiola', Hannu Lintu told me for a Gra?nophone reflection on the Sibelius anniversary two years ago (8/15). Well, after a metropolitan-feeling opening, Lintu's Tapiola does indeed settle into one of the finest performances on record, reconciling the obvious with the mysterious, casting everything in various shades of darkness until it snaps or roars outwards, and, in the culminating shift to the major, equalling Leif Segerstam's magical flooding of the soundscape with glistening, sideways forest light.

En saga stands as a partner piece to Tapiola at the other end of Sibelius's orchestral career, an early but unmistakable sign that the composer was capable of reaching deep into the Finnish nature psyche with wholly original technical and figurative tools. Again, this is a superb performance: rich down below, perky up top, full of delectable solos, with a sense of momentum that has a seismic effect on the musical argument from the string incantations at 6'54" onwards. Lintu invests the work with the sort of downward declamation we are now used to hearing in its contemporaneous Kullervo. The string ensemble at 12'06" is extraordinary and the power and confidence mustered after that delicate hesitance is awesome, not least as it recedes into nothingness. …

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