Jean Sibelius: Karelia Suite; Rakastava; Lemminkäinen Suite


On February 2, Susanna Mälkki and the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra are set to release an album featuring three masterful compositions of Jean Sibelius under BIS Records. This upcoming collection is highly anticipated for its exploration of Sibelius’ renowned works, including the compelling Karelia Suite, the emotionally charged Rakastava, Op. 14, and the evocative Lemminkäinen Suite, Op. 22. This collaboration serves as a testament to Mälkki’s commitment to preserving and evolving the legacy of Finnish classical music, solidifying the profound link between the conductor, the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra, and the timeless creations of Jean Sibelius who premiered many of his works with the HPO.

For those interested in securing a copy, the album is currently available for pre-order here.

Critical acclaim

“Susanna Mälkki and the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra produce well-crafted, beautifully detailed accounts.”


“This CD, dedicated to Jean Sibelius, brings together lesser-known works by the composer. Susanna Mälkki and the Helsinki Philharmonic deliver exciting interpretations. The conductor and the orchestra give each piece the necessary restraint or dynamism and allow the listener to immerse himself in the special atmosphere of Sibelius’ compositions. The performances are orchestrally brilliant, with skillfully dosed nuances and great inner tension.”


“Although the Op. 14 Rakastava was written just a year after Karelia, the final 1912 revised version (performed here) shows us developments in Sibelius’ orchestration. In The Lover (track 4), for instance, emotions come through via extremes in registrations. Mälkki and the ensemble highlight this dichotomy by leaning into the respective parts; what we get is a bold, vibrant sound that embodies poignancy and yearning.

[…] Mälkki and the Helsinki players do fine work across the board. Curation-wise, a program of this sort featuring early works is both interesting and important to understanding a composer’s musical trajectory—and this album has shed light convincingly on Sibelius’ creative spirit.”

The Classic Review

“…Mälkki understands the structure perfectly, as well as its clear narrational aspect, aligning it clearly to the genre of the tone poem. The piece – and the performance here – is bracing.


This is a phenomenal disc, full of energy and perfect in its mix of the famous and lesser-known pieces.”

Classical Explorer

“Conductor Susanna Mälkki and the members of the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra well capture and amplify the deep sorrow within its pages, and project a sonic image of a swan drifting in and out of heavy mist and fog.”

Classical Music Sentinel