This new release by the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra conducted by Hannu Lintu is an all-Sibelius programme featuring internationally acclaimed mezzo-soprano Anne Sofie von Otter. The album includes two major tone poems by Jean Sibelius (1865–1957), Tapiola and En Saga, combined with a set of songs orchestrated by Aulis Sallinen (b. 1935) in 2015. Sibelius’ magnificent tone poem Tapiola, written shortly after the 7th Symphony, may be regarded as the culmination of a period that began with the Fifth Symphony, a period where Sibelius created music that grew organically out of tiny germs into huge processes. It was completed in 1926 and remained Sibelius’s last great orchestral work. In Tapiola, Sibelius appears to equate the primacy of nature with the value of art for its own sake, the unattainable truths of which remain uneroded by time or by the shifting ideals of mankind. Sibelius stated to his private secretary: “My inspiration for Tapiola came wholly from nature, or even more accurately from something inexpressible in words.” The genesis of En Saga, originally premiered in 1892, is also shrouded in mystery, and even later in life Sibelius was reluctant to go into any detail regarding its content. It is among Sibelius’ earliest orchestral works, and its original title in Swedish, En saga, refers to ancient Nordic tales of heroes and gods. Although En saga is among the most popular works by Sibelius today, the premiere of the work was not a success and Sibelius revised the score in 1902. On the occasion of the 150th anniversary of Sibelius’s birth in 2015 composer Aulis Sallinen (b. 1935) orchestrated a cycle of songs for mezzosoprano Anne Sophie von Otter. This cycle of eight songs contains several less known songs in a cavalcade juxtaposing human emotions and innermost thoughts with the natural environment and experiences in nature. The recent recordings by the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra under Hannu Lintu on Ondine have gathered excellent reviews in the international press.