Thomas Søndergård's hybrid SACD of Jean Sibelius' Symphony No. 2 in D major and his Symphony No. 7 in C major is an audiophile showcase that presents two contrasting sides of the composer with optimal clarity. The comparatively lush orchestration of the Symphony No. 2 probably has never sounded better in any recorded format, and the multichannel reproduction of the BBC National Orchestra of Wales brings out its vibrant bass, velvety strings, and sumptuous winds in a resonant acoustic, all of which are essential ingredients in the young Sibelius' post-Romantic sound. Yet the Symphony No. 7 presents the sparer counterpoint and leaner textures of Sibelius' mature phase, so the recording brings out the transparency of the timbres, and the clean separation of parts gives an added spatial dimension. Søndergård's interpretations of both works are wholly sympathetic and masterful, and the orchestra plays with the commitment and vitality that make these symphonies compelling. One hopes this is the first installment of a Sibelius cycle, which would be a great addition to Linn's catalog. Highly recommended.
Symphony No. 2 in D Major, Op. 43:
1. I. Allegretto 09:29
2. II. Tempo Andante, ma rubato 13:51
3. III. Vivacissimo 05:55
4. IV. Finale: Allegro moderato 12:38
Symphony No. 7 in C major, Op.105:
5. Adagio – Vivacissimo – Allegro moderato 20:33