I remember that this concert was one of the most special in my time in Victoria. We only had one opportunity to record this Sibelius Symphony No. 4 and knew that we had to get it right in the first and only performance. There was a seriousness in the orchestra that was really quite profound and the orchestra's commitment to the music was felt deeply throughout the performance. We all knew that there was an importance and a gravitas to the music that we wanted our audience to understand and to relate to.
The struggle with death and the darkness that is conveyed and presented by Sibelius throughout this Symphony takes us on a unique journey, a journey much more sombre and inward than we often expect in orchestral music. Sibelius was struggling with the shock and stress of being diagnosed with throat cancer and undergoing surgery to remove it (this was done successfully). This difficult time in his life is reflected in the struggles of this Symphony.
We paired this Symphony with Sibelius' uplifting and emotional Symphony No. 7. It was, in a sense, the musical antidote to the complex and painfully introspect Fourth. I hope you enjoy this beautiful music.