Thomas Sondergard - Sibelius: Finlandia - The Scotsman

Whichever orchestra he has under his control, Thomas Søndergård makes Sibelius sound the way it should: naturally flowing, pungently colourful and free of forced rhetoric. Here he is with the BBC National Orchestra of Wales in a collection of works that are both familiar to our ears (En Saga, Finlandia, The Swan of Tuonela, The Oceanides and Valse Triste) and intriguingly unfamiliar (the item suite of incidental music for Adolf Paul’s play King Christian II).

The five movements that make up the last of these are a treat in themselves. The opening Nocturne is an absolute gem, serene, evocative, and richly melodic. Søndergård teases out every ounce of quiet passion.

The Elegy is like a welcome extension of the Nocturne, but the Musette soon sharpens the tone with its bucolic wit. An opulent sunrise opens the Serenade, before the rough and tumble of the Ballade. A fascinating score.

The Scotsman
26 July 2018