Pohjola is a spirit of the Far North, and his beautiful daughter sits atop a rainbow, weaving visions and spells to frustrate even the most courageous suitor. ‘Infante’, meanwhile, doesn’t mean a child but a princess of Spain – and Ravel’s ‘Pavane’ isn’t so much a song of mourning as a haunting dream of far away and long ago. These two women of legend frame Shi-Yeon Sung’s programme, and each serves as the prelude to a very different 20th-century masterpiece. Prokofiev wrote his First Violin Concerto amid the chaos of the Russian Revolution, but you wouldn’t guess it – the violin soars, sparkles and dances its way into a world of fairy-tale enchantment. Critics have compared soloist Stephen Waarts to “the young Yehudi Menuhin”. And Sibelius’s monumental Seventh Symphony is one of those pieces whose full power only becomes apparent when you hear it played live. “Other composers mix colourful cocktails” said Sibelius. “I serve pure, cool water.” The Seventh Symphony somehow manages to be both elemental and utterly life-affirming.
The concert will be recorded for future broadcast on BBC Radio 3.