Thomas Sondergard - Sibelius: Symphonies 2 & 7 - The Observer
Denmark's Thomas Søndergård took up the post of principal conductor of the BBC National Orchestra of Wales in the 2012-13 season. On the basis of their impressive debut album, the omens for this partnership are good. Symphony No 2 has a haunting inner strength, especially in the andante, with Søndergård keeping a tight rein on emotions until the expansive last movement. The elusive, one-movement Symphony No 7 - Sibelius's last - is similarly intense and rigorous. Woodwind and brass mix rawness with grandeur. Strings are supple, ensemble good. Søndergård's handsome image appears six times on the CD cover or in the liner notes, with none of Sibelius. If the BBCNOW are keen to promote their newish conductor, this album is a great calling card.