Who better to bring this year’s cycle of Sibelius symphonies to a close than Finnish conductor Osmo Vänskä, with one exceptional cycle already completed on disc and another currently under way.
‘These symphonies of mine are more confessions of faith than are my other works,’ wrote Sibelius, but the later symphonies were hard-won confessions in which the composer’s creativity struggled with self-doubt and hostile critics.
The results, however, are exceptional, from the soaring horn-led ‘Swan Hymn’ of the Fifth to the innocent beauty of the Sixth to the single-movement Seventh, with its total symphonic unity and an ending that has been called ‘the grandest celebration of C major there ever was’.
Symphony No. 5 in E flat major 32’
Symphony No. 6 in D minor 27’
Symphony No. 7 in C major 22’
BBC Symphony Orchestra
Osmo Vänskä conductor