The present recordings of The Swan of Tuonela, Lemminkäinen's Return and Finlandia are previously unreleased. Stereo versions of the original 5.0 surround sound recordings of the Karelia Suite, The Wood-Nymph, Spring Song, Valse triste and Scene with Cranes have appeared in the BIS Sibelius Complete Edition. For inclusion on this hybrid SACD they have been remixed.
Regularly described by reviewers as 'the pre-eminent Sibelius interpreters of our day' (American Record Guide) and 'the Sibelius orchestra and conductor of the moment' (International Record Review), Osmo Vänskä and the Lahti Symphony Orchestra have become synonymous with idiomatic, pioneering and authoritative interpretations of the music of Jean Sibelius. In fact the team's very first Sibelius recording, in 1991, caused a sensation: juxtaposing the final version of the composer's famous violin concerto with the original version - never before recorded - made for a disc that was of eminent interest to the world of classical music, as witness the Gramophone Award that it received upon its release. But the recording, with soloist Leonidas Kavakos, was also praised for its artistic quality, and is still, almost twenty years later, considered a classic account of the work. The Lahti / Vänskä team went on to record the well-known Sibelius works - the seven symphonies, the tone poems, Kullervo - as well as a large amount of music that had hitherto been all but ignored. The fruits of their long involvement with the composer now form the orchestral back-bone of the ongoing Sibelius Edition on BIS, and have been of great interest to Sibelius specialists and music-lovers alike. The present programme unashamedly glories in some of the composer's most popular pieces, all in the versions familiar to concert audiences around the world. Recorded in 5.0 surround sound during sessions in 2006 and 2007, the performances constitute a sonic spectacular - and some of the last Sibelius recordings by a legendary team.