Marking his debut on Ondine, the German star violinist Frank Peter Zimmermann is featured here as soloist in the virtuoso Sibelius Violin Concerto, one of the most spectacular late Romantic works in its genre. Its dazzling finale has been described as an ’invocation’ filled with ’demonic passion’.
Also, the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra under chief conductor John Storgårds performs two elusive tone poems by the same composer, The Bard and The Wood Nymph - works that were premiered by the same orchestra a century ago, conducted by Sibelius himself. The Wood Nymph is based on the ballad "Skogsrået" by Viktor Rydberg; a first sketch resulted in a play with music (for narrator, strings, two French horns, and piano). The present recording follows the orchestral version’s recently published critical edition.
"An account of Sibelius’s Violin Concerto that blossoms into something special - a reading of simmering intensity, steadfast concentration and dashing technical security... As for the couplings, Storgårds secures as compelling a rendering of The Bard as I can ever recall ... He also has the measure of The Wood Nymph... This is a thoroughly recommendable release."
Andrew Achenbach - Gramophone - January 2011
Alain Steffen - Pizzicato - January 2011
Patrick Szersnovicz, Diapason - November 2010
"Frank Peter Zimmermann matches intensity with passionate virtuosity ... the Helsinki Philharmonic providing a backcloth of impressive detail, strength and incisiveness... The disc also has the merit of featuring excellent performances of two of Sibelius’s atmospheric but less frequently played tone poems, The Bard and The Wood Nymph."
Geoffrey Norris - The Telegraph - 17 September 2010
"Frank Peter Zimmermann offers a fresh and exciting view of the Violin Concerto ... with swift tempos, and in particular a dazzling quick finale... John Storgårds ... conducts all of this music with unaffected mastery... The engineering is generally excellent, particularly in the concerto..."
David Hurwitz - ClassicsToday.com, - August 2010