Related Reviews
The Times
4 Stars
Prom 6: 'Brilliant music, this; masterful music-making as well.'
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The Arts Desk
Prom 6: 'The result was a moment of almost Mozartean elegance: clean, precise and quite, quite beautiful.'
more >>
BachTrack
4 Stars
Prom 6: '...the BBCNOW’s strings really shone in those moments of rich writing...'
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The Telegraph
4 Stars
Prom 6: '...in Søndegård’s hands the bombast seemed radiant, and moving.'
more >>
Evening Standard
4 Stars
Prom 5: '...there was a strong sense of the organic growth that makes this compact work so mysterious.'
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The Independent
4 Stars
Prom 5: '...the BBC National Orchestra of Wales [was] in top form under Thomas Sondergard’s direction...'
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BachTrack
4 Stars
Prom 5: '...a clean and ringing sound that rendered Sibelius' orchestral writing transparent but wonderfully warm.'
more >>
Limelight
'This project cycle should appeal to those who like their Sibelius cool, crisp and bracing.'
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Gramophone
'Another disc with a live feel, this Sibelius coupling with the BBC NOW under Thomas Søndergård will bring out the best in any well-matched [hi-fi] set-up.’
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Fono Forum
5 Stars
,,Das ist kein bukolisches Rauschen nordischer Wälder, sondern eher ein Ausloten von Seelenlandschaften.''
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Klassik
5 Stars
Audiophiles Highlight: 'Das ist kein bukolisches Rauschen nordischer Wälder, sondern eher ein Ausloten von Seelenlandschaften. Das verklärte En de des Werks stellt daher nicht nur das zu erwartende frohe Ende dar, es scheint vielmehr fast eine Art Erlösung zu symbo lisieren.'
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Classical Candor
'Sondergard's rendering of it is, frankly, gorgeous, one of the most brilliant, moving performances I've heard.'
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Applaus
'Das ist die perfekte CD für Sibelius-Einsteiger wie auch für den Kenner, der schon Referenzaufnahmen im Regal stehen hat, denn es stimmt alles: der ganz spezifische Klang in perfekter Balance, die Tempi, die Spannungsbögen.'
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Classics Today France
4 Stars
'Qui veut un Sibelius bien enregistré en SACD multicanal trouvera ici un produit de choix.'
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Audiophile Audition
4 Stars
'Two Sibelius gems superbly played and recorded.'
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Sinfini Music
'[Sondergard's Seventh Symphony] feels nicely organic with some delectable moments of musical blossoming, not least towards the signature trombone solo.'
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The Observer
4 Stars
'...intense and rigorous...'
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Scene Magazine
'The immersive Nordic soundscapes of Jean Sibelius' aural world are immaculately rendered on this release from Linn.'
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Pizzicato
4 Stars
'Thomas Sondergard gives Sibelius's Second Symphony a very expressive character, while the Seventh is deeply reflective. Excellent playing by the BBC Symphony Orchestra of Wales. The recorded sound matches the excellence of the performances.'
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Robert Music Blog
'The performance of the 2nd is sublime.'
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InfoDad
4 Stars
'An outstanding Symphony No. 2.'
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The Sunday Times
'The BBC National Orchestra of Wales here shows itself to be in fine fettle, offering cogent, clear-textured performances.'
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Politiken
4 Stars
'[Sondergard] livtag med Sibelius’ 2. Symfoni matcher nogle af de bedste...Kombinationen af klarhed, varme og Sibelius’ svimlende symfoniske vidder, som de langsomt samler sig i symfoniens stadig større, bjergtagende landskabsagtige panoreringer, er flot.'
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Herald Scotland
'I can only welcome, with fast-beating heart, one of the great new Sibelian teams into the record business with the debut recording on Linn Records of Sibelius's Second and Seventh Symphonies by Thomas Sondergard and his BBC National Orchestra of Wales.'
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ResMusica
'Thomas Søndergård impose un Sibelius direct et franc du collier, simplement musical et granitique, mais qui s'avère inspiré et sain.'
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The Telegraph
4 Stars
'The BBC NOW, recorded in the warm, clear acoustics of the Hoddinott Hall in Cardiff, responds keenly to the way that Søndergård subtly controls aspects of tempo, instrumental balance and the shifting of mood to create a genuine sense of the music's organically conceived nature.'
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AllMusic
5 Stars
'The comparatively lush orchestration of the Symphony No. 2 probably has never sounded better in any recorded format.'
more >>
BBC Music Magazine
'Thomas Søndergård has a deserved reputation as a fine conductor...there's also much deft and accurate detail...'
more >>

Thomas Sondergard - Sibelius: Symphonies 2 & 7 - Classics Today


26 April 2015
Classics Today
David Hurwitz
4½ Stars

Artistic Quality: 9
Sound Quality: 9

These performances of the Second and Seventh symphonies are impressive-particularly the case with the Second. Despite the work's popularity, or maybe because of it, no other Sibelius symphony has received so many disappointing recordings, some by very major conductors (think: Karajan, for example). Søndergård gets it right. The first movement moves swiftly and purposefully. Usually it's taken too slowly, its pastoral freshness compromised. Not here. The second movement's turbulent climaxes have plenty of the necessary ferocity, and the scherzo is simply stunning at the swiftest possible tempo. The BBC National Orchestra of Wales strings really do themselves proud. Søndergård paces the finale perfectly, and only a certain timidity in the trumpets prevents its heroic opening theme from projecting with sufficient brilliance. Otherwise, this is certainly one of the better recent versions.
As for the Seventh, there are no issues at all. At just 20 minutes, again, Søndergård reveals his understanding of the idiom and mastery of large-scale architecture. The transitions, from the opening adagio to the initial allegro and back again, and then on to that sunny pastoral interlude, all proceed with the inevitability of fate itself. The orchestra's woodwinds and solo trombone do some particularly excellent work throughout the symphony, and the closing pages have that warm glow of fulfillment that seems completely unique to the work. Again it's a question of timing, particularly those final "amen" chords. Sonically the engineering is warm and well balanced, but the soft timpani and brass have a tendency to vanish into the texture and lose presence. Still, if this is the first disc in a planned cycle, it looks like it's going to be a very good one.
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Related Links

BBC National Orchestra of WalesBBC National Orchestra of Wales
Thomas SondergardThomas Sondergard
Sibelius: Symphonies 2 & 7Sibelius: Symphonies 2 & 7