Sibelius: Symphonies – No 1 in E minor, Op 39; No 6, Op 104

Reviewed on Mon 10 Jul, 2017

The First Symphony in particular sounds excitingly newly-minted under the Dane's memorably watchful advocacy, the orchestral playing full of enthusiasm and pungent character (bracingly expressive winds throughout).

The second volume in Thomas Søndergård's Sibelius cycle for Linn with the BBC National Orchestra of Wales brings further compelling evidence of this partnership's perceptive insights. The First Symphony in particular sounds excitingly newly-minted under the Dane's memorably watchful advocacy, the orchestral playing full of enthusiasm and pungent character (bracingly expressive winds throughout). Arresting touches, sparky incident and ear-pricking details are legion. Above all, there's a contagious hunger and freshness of new discovery that mark out this newcomer as yet another 'must hear' alongside recent rivals like Storgårds (Chandos) and Kamu (BIS). Linn's lean, transparent sonics suit Søndergård's approach to a T. If the performance of the altogether more rarefied Sixth doesn't quite ignite the imagination to the same degree, there's still lots to admire, not least the abundant dramatic and poetic instinct on show, as well as the unvarnished, big-hearted honesty these fine artists bring to this illimitably fascinating, timeless and uniquely personal statement. Impressive.
–Andrew Achenbach