Internationally, Lahti Symphony Orchestra is closely associated with the numerous Sibelius recordings released on BIS, conducted by their long-time chief conductor Osmo Vänskä. These recordings have received an overwhelming international welcome among reviewers, but also among record-buyers: as of August 2009 more than one million Lahti discs released by BIS have been sold! As many already know, the orchestra does not only play works by Sibelius - its recordings of music by contemporary Finnish composers such as Rautavaara, Kalevi Aho and Joonas Kokkonen have all met with critical acclaim. Led by Jukka-Pekka Saraste, its present chief conductor, the orchestra now takes a step eastwards, and performs two symphonies by the Ukrainian composer Valentin Silvestrov. Having as a student absorbed the music of Webern, Scriabin and the new Polish school, in the 1970s Silvestrov moved away from avant-garde techniques and became increasingly involved with the idiom of 19th-century song: 'It seems to me that music is song in spite of everything, even when it is unable to sing in a literal sense. Not a philosophy, not a system of beliefs, but the song of the world about itself, and at the same time a musical testament to existence.' To date, Silvestrov has composed seven symphonies, of which the Fourth (1976) and the Fifth (1980-82) are both dominated by a longing for a beauty that used to be, but is no longer within reach. Considered by some to be his masterpiece, Symphony No. 5 has for instance been described as 'an epilogue or coda inspired by the music of late Romantic composers such as Gustav Mahler.'