Ondine ODE 1035-2
Sibelius conducted by a composer promises well. Sibelius directed by the now 60-year-old great bearded Finn Leif Segerstam -- he who has already 23 symphonies to his own name and a fine ear not only for orchestral colour but also for architecture too -- must be among the best promises in the field at present.
These recordings, part of the complete cycle planned by Ondine, have been made over the last 18 months at the Finlandia Hall, and demonstrate a profoundly effective partnership of orchestra and conductor, both in complete accord with the composer's spirit and musical intention. There is an impressive structural clarity in the performances, a clear indication that the music is completely understood.
The broad lines that close the first movement of the 3rd Symphony, its winding down to repose after such an extended and fraught unfolding, demonstrate sensitive management
[listen -- track 1, 8:51-10:35].
Segerstam gives the 5th Symphony its powerful grandeur. For me, one of the miracles of symphonic thinking (which took considerable time to achieve, of course) is that moment when the sun breaks through those dark clouds as the first movement becomes the second with such apparently spontaneous ease
[listen -- track 4, 8:33-9:53].
This is a recording which should make it an urgent need to acquire the rest of the Sibelius cycle under Segerstam's direction.