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Posted October 1, 2010
Finnish conductor Mikko Franck is a force of growing importance in the concert halls around the world. This 2000 recording of 'En Saga' and 'Lemminkäinen Suite: Four Legends from the Kalevala' by his fellow countryman Jean Sibelius with the Radio Symphony Orchestra is stunning in clarity of the massively complex lines and in propulsive drive of the works. For this listener the recording by Franck's senior, Esa-Pekka Salonen with the Los Angeles Philharmonic from 1992, is still the definitive version, but this recording is a triumph nonetheless. The Lemminkäinen Suite is far too seldom performed as it is some of Sibelius' most vibrantly beautiful work. The long suite (50 minutes) has no dull moments, is full of dramatic urgency and tension, and stops for one of the treasures of 20th Century composition - 'The Swan of Tuonela' which is the third 'movement' in the suite, one of the loveliest pairings of the English horn and the cello. Sibelius' tendency to dwell on the unresolved massive chord, finding every corner of the sonics of that chord pause before moving to yet another unresolved chord is what makes his climaxes almost unbearably beautiful. In a recent performance by Salonen and the LA Phil in Disney Hall, a performance fifteen years after their recording, the true brilliance of the suite found the perfect home: one only hopes that there will be a new recording of the fully matured work with these forces soon. The sonics of this recording are splendid and the sound of the orchestra is majestic and rich. Mikko Franck is definitely a conductor to watch, especially as a master of Sibelius, and this recording is as fine an introduction to the man's gifts as any. Grady HarpWas this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.