A cool wind blows through Sibelius’ violin concerto as a solo line emerges from a snowy haze. It sets the tone for this rugged concerto where violinist and orchestra engage in brooding and dramatic dialogue.
Violinist Akiko Suwanai and Vladimir Ashkenazy bring their virtuosity and emotional intelligence to the most musically satisfying and deeply-felt of all violin concertos. While Finland is a subtle presence in the concerto, the earlier Karelia Suite evokes the rough-hewn folk-life of the Karelia region, then under Russian control.
The same love of country motivates Sibelius’ Symphony No.1. From its haunted beginning to a blazing conclusion, this is a young man’s symphony: fired with anger and hope. It is a premonition of how Sibelius would forever change the symphony, and of his role as the symbol of Finnish independence.