Sibelius: Symphonies – No 3 in C major, Op 52; No 6 in D minor, Op 104; No 7 in C major, Op 105

Reviewed on Wed 11 Jan, 2017

The results, brimful as they are of pungent character, eagle-eyed observation and intrepid incident, are tremendously compelling in their sinewy strength and revelatory transparency.

Osmo Vänskä completes his second survey of Sibelius's numbered symphonies for BIS (a new Kullervo is also in the offing, I gather) with this exceptionally stimulating trio of performances, featuring some wondrously poised and alert playing from his Minnesota band and top-notch engineering to boot. Vänskä's approach is, on the whole, more spacious than it was in Lahti, and the results, brimful as they are of pungent character, eagle-eyed observation and intrepid incident, are tremendously compelling in their sinewy strength and revelatory transparency; in the finale of the Sixth, for example, how refreshing it is to hear Sibelius's highly individual timpani writing cutting through the texture. If the versions of both the Third and Sixth rank among the finest ever (the latter's transcendental closing pages are strong, pure and unadorned), the Seventh is rather more controversial. That said, the daringly patient Vänskä never loses the thread, and his orchestra is simply magnificent throughout. Listen, ponder and marvel.
–Andrew Achenbach