Paavo Berglund conducts Sibelius's Symphony No. 4 — With the Chamber Orchestra of Europe

The legendary 1998 cycle of Sibelius's symphonies

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Chamber Orchestra of Europe

Paavo Berglund — Conductor

Program notes

Sibelius’s Fourth Symphony is perhaps the most sui generis of his seven, a stylistic and formal outlier in the set. Completely misunderstood by the audience at its 1911 premiere, this "psychological symphony" represented for the composer a plunge into the unconscious, symbolically represented by recurrent melodic gestures that sparkle throughout the work. The realm of dream and imagination, distorted by moments of dissonance unprecedented in Sibelius's oeuvre to this point, fills in the pieces of a puzzle best appreciated as a completed whole.

A moment to listen for in… Sibelius’s Fourth Symphony: The Chamber Orchestra of Europe shows off all the colors of its string section from the very beginning of the work, with the double basses' impossibly clear tone (00:54) and the mournful cello solo at 01:20. The violin and viola then build to an ethereal climax (2:40), unexpectedly interrupted (2:51) by a colorful new chord in the brass section—and that's all in just the opening measures of this enigmatic, whimsical symphony!

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

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