, June 2012
Pohjola’s Daughter probably is my favorite Sibelius tone poem, and this is without question its finest performance on disc. In fact, I find it little short of amazing, and to describe each and every felicity of interpretation and execution would require a bar-by-bar analysis. But let me begin by saying that Leif Segerstam and the Helsinki Philharmonic, both here and in the Fourth Symphony, achieve that mysterious alchemy that produces great Sibelius: a perfect equilibrium between incidental detail and structural cogency. Pohjola’s Daughter is particularly treacherous in this regard, and there are three places where most performances are likely to go wrong.
Happily, the performance of the Fourth Symphony remains at the same exalted level, easily on par with the finest available. Segerstam has picked up his pace a bit…but even more significantly he once again manages to plumb the depths of the music’s colors and textures without any sacrifice in momentum.
As a bonus, Ondine includes a fervent Finlandia in its version with male choir, and the engineering is truly outstanding—at one with the music and ensuring that the whole production sounds just plain gorgeous. These are essential, revelatory interpretations that no Sibelian worth his stripes can afford to miss. © 2012 ClassicsToday.com Read complete review