In this specific case, I'm for performing the original, with two caveats:
- A line-per-line literal translation in the program
- An introduction to the work, its context and its meaning from the podium before the piece
Although as you say, there is some "top-notch" music here, I'm afraid that it's a little too "specific" or esoteric to stand on its own before an average concert audience. But with the right introduction, people may be drawn into the work.
Generally, I think every nation has music that is so specific to its own heritage that it hardly ever grows to be more than a mere curiosity for the rest of the music-listening world. In the Czech Republic, the tone-poems of Dvořák are a prime example.
- In Natures Realm
...gets some play time (especially Karneval)...
...but his tone poems derived from the collection of folk-horror-fairytales called Kytice
are usually dismissed, because their content is not understood or dismissed as trivial. That said, among Czech enthusiasts, it is these tone-poems that are considered to be his best output, they are held above symphonies 7-8-9, second in belovedness only to the cello concerto.
- The Wood Dove (Holubice)
- The Golden Spinning Wheel (Zlatý kolovrát)
- The Water Sprite (Vodník)
- The Noon Witch (Polednice)
- The Wedding Shirt (?) (Svatební košile) (Oratorio)
My favourite of these is Vodník
, where he instrumentally
mimics the Czech speech-rhythms of the original verse. A non-Czech audience can perhaps understand this, but they can never really appreciate
this and experience the thrill that this brings upon listening.
So the same can be perhaps said of the Sibelius examples... while non-Finnish Sibelius enthusiasts will certainly appreciate
an explained performance of these works, it will probably still leave the average Brahms-Consuming
masses out in the dark.