A program of the Sixth and Seventh Symphonies and the Violin Concerto is the stuff dreams are made of. A Sibelius lover’s dream, that is… and certainly when the performers are the LSO (Sibelius being perhaps the only composer these all-rounders can take specialist-credits for), Leonidas Kavakos as the soloist, and conductor Osmo Vänskä.
The latter, in turn, is one of the very few replacements for the ailing Colin Davis who might be considered an upgrade with that program. It’s conjecture, but given the superb results it strikes one as a plausible one.
The Sixth Symphony was the most appreciated item on the bill: It’s a much less often performed work than Symphonies Two, Five, and Seven, but every bit as moving. Its deceptive four movement outline suggests something relatively orthodox where there is no symphonic orthodoxy at all. The work barely has beginnings and it has even fewer ends. Between movements, there is scarcely enough of a signal to audience to start their coughing-cascades. The work has an aim, but the target of it never seems to be revealed; its principal feature might be the strange, intriguing attractiveness in an inverse Marilyn Monroe way: Very beautiful, but not at all pretty. Vanska, a Sibelian semaphore of astounding exactitude, led the LSO in a performance of perfect clarity and of a seamless, organic fit. Or at least perfect compared to the dog’s breakfast most continental European orchestras make of Sibelius’ intertwining lines of thought. The brief third movement was juicy, the finale fleet and of irresistible wit and detail.
Kavakos Roars through Mendelssohn (April 17, 2009)
Ionarts at Large: Kavakos & Leonskaja in Brahms (October 15, 2008)
Ionarts-at-Large: Thielemann & Kavakos in (More) Brahms (July 01, 2008)
Too Few Witness Sibelius Greatness (March 09, 2007)
Dip Your Ears, No. 28 & Best of 2005 - Stravinsky/Bach (February 13th, 2005)
J.Sibelius, Violin Concerto
(org. & rev. versions),
L.Kavakos / O.Vänskä / Lahti SO
The best prescription for listening to the Seventh is: close your eyes and cry about the loss of the Eighth. Everyone played along beautifully: brass especially, with extra merit points for trombones and horns; a few demerits for the hissy flutes and airy clarinets, though even those worked their own charm in the Sibelian landscape. A fine cap to a rare gem of a concert.