Paavo Berglund conducts Sibelius's Symphony No. 3 — With the Chamber Orchestra of Europe

The legendary 1998 cycle of Sibelius's symphonies

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Program notes

In his Third Symphony, Sibelius moves away from the frenzied Romanticism of his first two, and flirts with Neoclassicism in the handling of the different orchestra sections. At the same time, he turns to Nordic popular music and even hints at a prototypical minimalism (a movement that wouldn't be fully articulated for several decades), as evidenced by the use of repeated notes and patterns in the first movement. His surprising use of accent and rhythm also anticipates some of Stravinsky’s most distinctive features.

A moment to listen for in… Sibelius’s Third Symphony: Luxuriate in the soft, waltzing string accompaniment for the two solo clarinets (12:55). Towards the end of this passage, the strings will gain more and more prominence, offering a true melodic counterpart to the woodwind melodies (13:59): an unexpected use of thematic material, masterfuly developed.

About this cycle: It would be difficult to speak about the life and work of Finnish conductor Paavo Berglund without mentioning the name of his illustrious compatriot, composer Jean Sibelius—but the reverse is also true, as Berglund spent a lifetime exploring the profound depths of Sibelius’s music and bringing it to an ever wider public. After three recordings of the complete Sibelius symphonies on CD, Berglund returned to these titanic works in 1998, aged nearly 70, with a level of insight—shaped over the course of decades—that perhaps no other conductor has ever achieved.

His unique perspective, with a keen ear for subtle details and a remarkable clarity of sound, found a perfect outlet in the impeccable Chamber Orchestra of Europe. The ensemble, equipped here with a smaller string section than you’ll hear in most Sibelius cycles, brings out previously unheard nuances in these seven masterpiece of late Romanticism. These iconic readings, brimming with emotion and intensity, are now available on video and streaming 24/7 on

A closer look: composers and works

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