- King Christian II (Kung Kristian II), orchestral suite, Op. 27
- Symphony No. 2 in D major, Op. 43
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Sibelius' "Symphony No. 2 in D major, Op. 43," had an almost Beethovenian recording frequency in the 2000s and 2010s, with several new recordings appearing every year, and young Scandinavian conductors had their work cut out for them to stand out from the crowd. It is no problem, however, for Santtu-Matias Rouvali, who has performed the work with several groups and honed it into a set of large lines that are unusually coherent and powerful. His reading of the work with the Philharmonia Orchestra was one of the leading factors propelling him to the position of principal conductor with that venerable group. It's easy to see what they liked: this is a fresh and accomplished Sibelius "Second." He was already chief conductor of the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra when this album appeared in 2020, and the group is well under his control here. Rouvali runs a bit counter to type: this is not a Sibelius that puts the listener in mind of Scandinavian pine landscapes. Rather, this is a Sibelius still under the influence of Tchaikovsky, with the swelling rising third at the beginning of the first movement a bit restless, and the entire movement, faster than most other readings, having an uneasy tone. The slow movement is a bit more typical in its tempo, but again, it has an unsettled quality, and the Vivacissimo scherzo is high-speed and brilliant. Some may want more sentiment in the finale, which became one of the great Finnish patriotic numbers, but Rouvali has it unfold in a single compelling motion. The "Suite from King Christian II" perhaps benefits less from Rouvali's unsentimental approach, but that is a small complaint compared to the accomplishment of a young conductor who has forged a major Sibelius "Second" early in his career.