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Posted October 1, 2010
This well-rounded collection of the better-known short works of Jean Sibelius is very well served by conductor Osmo Vänskä and the Lahti Symphony Orchestra. It is one of those CDs for both the passionate lover of Sibelius' music as well as a very fitting introduction to those who for some reason have not placed the great Finnish composer in their collection of recordings. While many of the works fall into the 'pops' category (well known from frequent exposure) such as 'Finlandia', 'The Swan of Tuonela' from the Lemminkäinen, 'Valse Triste', and 'Tapiola', there are some significant works less well known in the concert halls. One of the more poignant of these is the 'Death of Melisande' from the Pelléas et Mélisande incidental music - an example of the fine works for theater Sibelius composed ('The Tempest' being another of these rarely performed works). Vänskä and his orchestra give solid performances here, somehow making this collection cohesive. Jean Sibelius is growing in respect as on of the more important composers linking the Romantics with the Moderns and we are left to wonder what would have come from him had he not ceased composing for the last decades of his life (he died in 1957). For the past weeks the audiences for the Los Angeles Philharmonic have been blessed with Esa Pekka Salonen's survey of his fellow countryman's genius in a series he titled 'Sibelius Unbound'. The survey included all seven symphonies and some tone poems and excerpts (one of those being the luminous 'Death of Melisande') and as Salonen approaches age fifty he has become the foremost interpreter of Sibelius' music. Hearing all seven symphonies performed by the brilliant LA Phil in Disney Hall was indeed a revelation - and more profound and integrated renderings of the works will probably not be heard again. One only can hope that Salonen and the LA Phil will record the Sibelius cycle: it would doubtless be a cycle without peer. Grady HarpWas this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.