Janáček, Szymanowski, Sibelius - The Arts Desk

Sibelius’s Fifth Symphony, roughly contemporaneous with the Szymanowski, isn’t most people’s favourite Sibelius symphony for nothing. You can almost smell the Finnish pine forests in the hushed rustles of strings and the lonely bassoon solo in the first movement’s core, the music emerging from its darkest moments into a springlike ferment of joy; and the finale, with its great soaring horns – associated with a flight of 16 swans that the composer watched in wonder – is completely irresistible. Nobody knows better than Rattle how to milk this music for its emotional, virtually mystical highs, with dug-in strings, open-hearted woodwind and brass in full blaze mode.

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