Pohjola’s Daughter, Op.49
Symphony No.2 in D, Op.43
London Symphony Orchestra
Sir Colin Davis
Recorded 18 September & 9 October 2005 (Pohjola’s Daughter) and 27-28 September 2006 at the Barbican Hall, London
Reviewed by: Colin Anderson
Reviewed: April 2007
CD No: LSO LIVE LSO0105
Duration: 59 minutes
Sir Colin Davis’s third recorded cycle of Sibelius’s symphonies continues apace. (Just the First and Fourth to come.) This release is sensibly ordered, Pohjola’s Daughter coming before the symphony, although a longer gap between the two would have been welcome.
Pohjola’s Daughter – one of the composer’s greatest achievements (his greatest symphonies and tone poems are indistinguishable in quality) – begins with an eloquent cello solo (the player unnamed) to herald a notably atmospheric performance; whether through an ethereal harp, appropriately slimy-sounding double basses, and contrasts between otherworldly ambience, propulsive narrative (with a sense of ‘danger’) and glowering climaxes, there is no doubt that Sir Colin has this music in his bones. The fade-out to the whole piece is magically achieved.
Davis’s view of the symphony is objective, structured and musical – his is not the most volatile or partisan of views. It’s an admirably satisfying performance built on an organic ebb and flow – of pulse and tension – that leads inevitably, via a scherzo that is maybe too precise and not ‘whirlwind’ enough, to a dignified-in-triumph rather than pompous conclusion.
Vivid and immediate sound – with some welcome depth, too – completes a fine release.