Paavo Berglund conducts Sibelius's Symphony No. 6 — 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

After delivering his intensely melodic Fifth Symphony in 1923, Sibelius was faced with an important decision: Should he advance towards the cutting-edge aesthetic shifts shaking European music, or should he continue treading the pathways of his own powerful and popular expressionism? Interestingly, Sibelius’s Sixth Symphony instead gravitates to the timeless past, with structures reminiscent of ancient choral music and the enigmatic folk traditions of his country. Melodic fragments, ambivalent harmonies, and unexpected rhythms transport the listener to a dreamlike world of improbable yet undeniable logic. When speaking of his Sixth Symphony, the composer simply stated: “Whereas most other modern composers are engaged in manufacturing cocktails of every hue and description, I offer the public pure cold water."

A moment to listen for in… Sibelius’s Sixth Symphony: What does the sublime transition from the string melody at 2:30 to the picturesque, playful scene at 3:03 bring to mind? What about the dance-like rhythms at 17:14? Find us on Facebook or Twitter and share your thoughts with us!

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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