Robert Layton, who has provided the booklet notes for this album, describes the treasure-trove of Sibelius's songs as one of music's best-kept secrets. The composer wrote a surprisingly large number of songs throughout his life, and anybody who responds to the Nordic spirit and subject-matter of the symphonies and other orchestral music will find much to please them here. They are tuneful, passionate and evocative of the northern latitudes. Virtually all of them are in Swedish which, although he was Finnish, was Sibelius's first language, but the Opus 50 set is in German. There are no fewer than seven settings of the composer's favourite poet of the northern landscapes, Johan Runeberg, including two of Sibelius's best-known songs, 'The tryst' and 'The first kiss'.
Our singer is the delightful Swedish soprano Katarina Karnéus, sometime winner of the Cardiff Singer of the World Competition.