The Sandalphon John Philip Sousa
A brilliant evocation of tales of old from Finland.
Repertoire: Luonnotar, Orchestral Songs
Artists: Soile Isokoski (soprano), Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra/Leif Segerstam
Label: Ondine ODE 1080-5
Sibelius’s tone poem Luonnotar, like many of his works, draws on Finnish legends from the Kalevala, in this case the story of a nature spirit whose adventures in unknown seas result in the formation of the stars. Isokoski has the ideal voice for this, indeed for all these marvellous songs: a pure tone, strong, clear and full of fine-phrased expression that matches Sibelius’s spare, concentrated power and other-worldly magic. She evokes soaring beauty, passionate loneliness and hypnotic story-telling with equal ease and grace. Segerstam and the Helsinki Philharmonic provide delicate, atmospheric accompaniment; in Luonnotar you can almost feel the shiver of sea air across strange waters.