Jean Sibelius, the leading figure in Finnish music, made for himself a formidable reputation as a symphonist, augmented by his national symphonic poems, which were at the heart of his work. Much of this music is extremely familiar from its occasional use by broadcasting organisations and television stations throughout the world. Valse Triste brought the composer strangely little reward, in view of its great popularity, designed originally to provide dramatic illustration of a death-bed, but finally absorbed, its origin forgotten, into the standard romantic repertoire. The Karelia Suite, intended to accompany a patriotic pageant, will be immediately familiar, as will Finlandia from frequent use of excerpts to introduce television programmes. The Swan of Tuonela, among the remaining items of the selection, tells a moving folk-story.
Sibelius: Finlandia, Karelia Suite, Lemminkäinen's Return, Pohjola's Daughter, The Swan of Tuonela & Valse Triste, played by the Czecho-Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra (Bratislava) under Kenneth Schermerhorn.