As far as I'm concerned, Petri Sakari's cycle of Sibelius symphonies on Naxos is, for the most part, a very "middle of the road" affair in terms of interpretation. Sakari's Icelandic forces are by no means without their merits; quite to the contrary; this is a very good orchestra. What is lacking in Sakari's Sibelius symphonies is that something extra to make them stand out against the formidable competition that is available at a budget price or otherwise.
Remember, I said MOST of Sakari's Sibelius symphonies lack that extra ounce of specialness. This disc is the exception. A BIG exception.
This recording is simply ravashing. Both the 6th and 7th symphonies are performed with such freshness and sensitivity that it makes me wonder what prevented Sakari from working the same magic on the other discs. Within both symphonies, there is a forward momentum that seems to be lacking in most recordings of these works (why does everyone have to take them so slowly?) that makes these an edge-of-your-seat experience. The 6th especially is performed with a rare passion that makes what is Sibelius's most elusive symphony an exciting listen as opposed to a simply satisfying one.
And let's not forget Sakari's brilliant Suite No. 2 from THE TEMPEST. Again, there is a certain excitment here that seems to be lacking in other recordings of this rare piece.
Anyone who is a skeptic when it comes to "late Sibelius" should acquire this disc without delay. Of course, anyone who already loves these works should not hesitate in adding these recordings to their collection. As far as Sakari's Sibelius goes, thos one's a real "diamond in the rough."