MusicWeb International One of the most grown-up review sites around 2024
60,000 reviews
... and still writing ...

Search MusicWeb Here Acte Prealable Polish CDs

Presto Music CD retailer
Founder: Len Mullenger                                    Editor in Chief:John Quinn             

Some items
to consider

new MWI
Current reviews

old MWI
pre-2023 reviews

paid for

Acte Prealable Polish recordings

Forgotten Recordings
Forgotten Recordings
All Forgotten Records Reviews

Troubadisc Weinberg- TROCD01450

All Troubadisc reviews

FOGHORN Classics

Brahms String Quartets

All Foghorn Reviews

All HDTT reviews

Songs to Harp from
the Old and New World

all Nimbus reviews

all tudor reviews

Follow us on Twitter

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
Rob Barnett
Editor in Chief
John Quinn
Contributing Editor
Ralph Moore
   David Barker
Jonathan Woolf
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger


Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat


New Releases

Naxos Classical
All Naxos reviews

Hyperion recordings
All Hyperion reviews

Foghorn recordings
All Foghorn reviews

Troubadisc recordings
All Troubadisc reviews

all Bridge reviews

all cpo reviews

Divine Art recordings
Click to see New Releases
Get 10% off using code musicweb10
All Divine Art reviews

All Eloquence reviews

Lyrita recordings
All Lyrita Reviews


Wyastone New Releases
Obtain 10% discount

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing



CD: MDT AmazonUK AmazonUS
Sound Samples & Downloads

Jean SIBELIUS (1865-1957)
Symphony No. 6 in D minor, Op. 104 (1923) [29:19]
Symphony No. 7 in C major, Op. 105 (1924) [21:04]
Finlandia, Op. 26 (1899) [8:55]
New Zealand Symphony Orchestra/Pietari Inkinen
rec. 21-23 September 2009 (symphonies) and 27 July 2010, Michael Fowler Centre, Wellington, New Zealand
NAXOS 8.572705 [59:34]

Experience Classicsonline

The sketching and composition of Sibelius’s last three symphonies tended to overlap somewhat, so it is all the more surprising that they are so very different, one from the other. What are we to make, in particular, of the Sixth? The Fifth had its first two movements remarkably fused, and in the Seventh all four are, so it seems doubly strange, between the two, to encounter a work apparently in four traditional movements. But there’s nothing traditional about the Sixth. There are many passages of splendidly sonorous orchestral writing throughout its half-hour duration, but for the most part the orchestral sound is crystalline, almost white. I believe Sibelius himself described it as “clear spring water”. Of traditional – or even progressive – symphonic growth and development there is little, no tonic/dominant tension, no searching for resolution. There are not, in truth, even any themes to speak of. It must be the most difficult of the seven from the conductor’s point of view, so insubstantial that it risks disappearing, or at the very least, not leaving much of an impression.

In fact the impression it does leave is the one established at the very outset by the strings, lofty, cool, but immensely calm and tranquil. The music smiles its way through most of the first movement, at least until we reach the extraordinary, equivocal coda. Then in the second, what I suppose we should think of as the slow movement, what are all those rising scales trying to tell us? For all the brilliance of the writing, the scherzo is strangely muted, and the finale, which closes most satisfyingly and convincingly, is very undemonstrative for most of its length. Listening to the Sixth Symphony brings quite another kind of satisfaction than that provided by the Fifth or the Seventh, but satisfying it most certainly is, with not a single passage that could be confused with the music of another composer.

Naxos already have a very fine performance of this symphony in their catalogue, conducted by Petri Sakari, and others to seek out would certainly include the splendid, surprisingly dramatic performance from Sakari Oramo and the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, originally issued on Erato. But this one from New Zealand is very satisfying in its own right. The conductor really has the measure of the work, and the orchestra plays with just the right balance of weight and transparency. As an introduction to this marvellous if perplexing work this performance will serve perfectly well.

Just as there are innumerable rival performances of the Sixth that remain unmentioned above, so there are even more of the magnificent Seventh. Indeed, one might think there is a version of each of Sibelius’s symphonies to suit the sensibility of each listener. Barbirolli brings an almost Italianate warmth to the glorious passage for strings in the early pages of the symphony, and if this is hardly authentic it is both effective and affecting. Oramo and Petri Sakari, on the two discs mentioned above, are both, once again, very fine in their different ways, and Osmo Vänskä’s performance on BIS, similarly coupled with the Sixth, is one that held me spellbound the first time I heard it and still does. No shortage of choice, then, and here is another, thoroughly recommendable reading. The rising string scales at the very opening positively glower, but the music is beautifully, and very subtly, infused with light at the arrival of the woodwinds. The pace is very measured, as it also is in the string passage that follows, and which is sumptuously played and beautifully paced here. The big trombone theme is played rather more legato than we are used to, and the balance is more realistic, the instrument more recessed and integrated into the orchestral texture than is often the case. The transition into the second section (around the 9:00 mark) is perhaps a little low key and short on atmosphere compared to starrier readings, and some might find the following section (13:00) a little breathless, but these really are marginal points, and do not detract from the overall impression of a very fine and satisfying performance. And then there are some truly marvellous moments. The magical resolution that takes place at 19:35 and the passage leading into it are beautifully handled by these forces, and I don’t think I have ever heard exactly what happens in the orchestra in the five closing bars quite so clearly as I do here.

Only a very few people will, I think, purchase this disc for Finlandia, but the others might well be pleasantly surprised to be reminded of what a marvellous piece it is. This is a fine performance, the dark, brooding opening passage giving way to the grim determination of the main body of the work. That, plus the famous, inspiring melody, will leave us with no surprise that the work was instantly adopted as a patriotic statement.

William Hedley

See also review and Bargain of the Month rating by Brian Reinhart
















Making a Donation to MusicWeb

Writing CD reviews for MWI

About MWI
Who we are, where we have come from and how we do it.

Site Map

How to find a review

How to find articles on MusicWeb
Listed in date order

Review Indexes
   By Label
      Select a label and all reviews are listed in Catalogue order
   By Masterwork
            Links from composer names (eg Sibelius) are to resource pages with links to the review indexes for the individual works as well as other resources.

Themed Review pages

Jazz reviews


      Composer surveys
      Unique to MusicWeb -
a comprehensive listing of all LP and CD recordings of given works
Prepared by Michael Herman

The Collector’s Guide to Gramophone Company Record Labels 1898 - 1925
Howard Friedman

Book Reviews

Complete Books
We have a number of out of print complete books on-line

With Composers, Conductors, Singers, Instumentalists and others
Includes those on the Seen and Heard site


Nostalgia CD reviews

Records Of The Year
Each reviewer is given the opportunity to select the best of the releases

Monthly Best Buys
Recordings of the Month and Bargains of the Month

Arthur Butterworth Writes

An occasional column

Phil Scowcroft's Garlands
British Light Music articles

Classical blogs
A listing of Classical Music Blogs external to MusicWeb International

Reviewers Logs
What they have been listening to for pleasure



Bulletin Board

Give your opinions or seek answers

Past and present

Helpers invited!

How Did I Miss That?

Currently suspended but there are a lot there with sound clips

Composer Resources

British Composers

British Light Music Composers

Other composers

Film Music (Archive)
Film Music on the Web (Closed in December 2006)

Programme Notes
For concert organizers

External sites
British Music Society
The BBC Proms
Orchestra Sites
Recording Companies & Retailers
Online Music
Agents & Marketing
Other links
Web News sites etc

A pot-pourri of articles

MW Listening Room
MW Office

Advice to Windows Vista users  
Site History  
What they say about us
What we say about us!
Where to get help on the Internet
CD orders By Special Request
Graphics archive
Currency Converter
Web Ring
Translation Service

Rules for potential reviewers :-)
Do Not Go Here!
April Fools

Untitled Document

Reviews from previous months
Join the mailing list and receive a hyperlinked weekly update on the discs reviewed. details
We welcome feedback on our reviews. Please use the Bulletin Board
Please paste in the first line of your comments the URL of the review to which you refer.