There are some things to admire and some to regret with these recordings. The performances are well recorded with rich, detailed sound, but they are too often on the slack side. In addition it seems Segerstam feels the need to go over the top with idiosyncratic phrasing and tempi. The 2nd Symphony for instance. Segerstam has this going in fine form with powerful, expansive sound until he gets to the finale. There, in an attempt to create emphasis and passion, he inserts an odd hesitation preceding each proclamation of the main theme, like a singer taking a dramatic, deep breath before belting out a line. It sounds contrived and adds nothing. That theme can only be described as an anthem and accordingly must be delivered straight-up and unaffected. Then there is the 5th. Here Segerstam gets even further along before derailing. It's a full bodied performance, recorded with transparency, the famous Swan Hymn delivered majestically, but he so exaggerates the accelerando in the closing bars that it detracts from the structure of the entire work. The accelerando is there in the score, and is heard in every performance to different degrees, but not as Segerstam presents it. The first time I listened I was truly taken up in the experience...and then that! "What the...? Aarrgghhh!" It is truly jarring.
The other symphonies are more successful overall. The 3rd has a full bodied, athletic character that is unusual for this work but effective. The 4th is straightforward, appropriately dark and brooding, again with expansive sound. But perhaps a bit tepid. I am not as enthused by the 6th as some seem to be. It's OK, but a bit too broad for my tastes. I prefer a more taut, crystalline reading of this work. The 1st is very powerful and atmospheric, as is the 7th. Still, the 7th lacks the full measure of anguish and tension required in its final pages, so that the transcendent power of the final cadence seems somewhat underwhelming. The Violin Concerto is competent, but hardly memorable. The choral version of Finlandia is only the second I have heard other than Jarvi/Gothenburg on BIS. That recording is murky and suffers from distortion in climaxes so the crystal clear sound and singing of the subject recording is welcome. Overall I would rank Symphonies 3 and 1 as the most successful, followed by 7, 4 and 6. Really, 7, 4 and 6 can be ranked interchangeably. The Violin Concerto is not particularly compelling but there is nothing wrong with it. Symphonies 2 and 5 are disappointing.