Sibelius Theatre Music - Star Ledger of New Jersey
This 2003 title is a jewel in the Linn crown, one in a series of thoughtfully programmed Scottish Chamber Orchestra discs led by conductor-violinist Joseph Swenson. In other releases devoted to Mendelssohn, Brahms, Dvorak and Prokofiev, he solos in a major concerto, setting that alongside rarities, apt shorter pieces or a symphony. Here, he sticks to the baton, devoting an entire disc to the theater scores of Jean Sibelius -- rarely heard suites from "Pelleas and Melisande," "Belshazzar's Feast" and "The Tempest," plus the Finn's famous incidentals "Valse Triste" and "Andante Festivo." The music is gorgeous, from the aching "Death of Melisande" to a glittering "Oriental Procession." The playing balances rhythmic vitality with tonal mellowness, captured in the purest acoustics.