This is undoubtedly the greatest ever performance of the 4th symphony. The Penguin Guide reviewer obsesses over the the pianissimi in this and other Vanska Sibelius recordings, describing then almost as affections, but do not be deterred, have faith in your ears. They are ear-pricking and totally right. Also, the composer's circumstances at the time of its composition are as irrelevant as Schubert's and do not determine what they wrote. Sibelius renders the perhaps unacceptable fact that nature - the external world - is separate from us, that we are alone. It's a kind of nostalgia, though not for the past, more in the Greek sense of "nostos", the return home, which we can never consciously, or cerebally achieve with nature. Vanska expresses this with total conviction. The recorded sound is ravishing, espeically the woodwind.