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Sibelius: Complete Symphonies [Box set]

Jean Sibelius , Kurt Sanderling , Berlin Symphony Orchestra Audio CD
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Orchestra: Berlin Symphony Orchestra
  • Conductor: Kurt Sanderling
  • Composer: Jean Sibelius
  • Audio CD (June 25, 2002)
  • Number of Discs: 5
  • Format: Box set
  • Note on Boxed Sets: During shipping, discs in boxed sets occasionally become dislodged without damage. Please examine and play these discs. If you are not completely satisfied, we'll refund or replace your purchase.
  • Label: Brilliant Classics
  • ASIN: B0000695SN
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #778,280 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Disc: 1
1. Symphony No. 1 in E minor, Op. 39: Andante ma non troppo - allegro energico
2. Symphony No. 1 in E minor, Op. 39: Andante (ma non troppo lento)
3. Symphony No. 1 in E minor, Op. 39: Scherzo, allegro
4. Symphony No. 1 in E minor, Op. 39: Finale, quasi una fantasia
Disc: 2
1. Symphony No. 2 in D major, Op. 43: Allegretto
2. Symphony No. 2 in D major, Op. 43: Tempo andante, ma rubato
3. Symphony No. 2 in D major, Op. 43: Vivacissimo
4. Symphony No. 2 in D major, Op. 43: Finale, allegro moderato
See all 7 tracks on this disc
Disc: 3
1. Symphony No. 4 in A minor, Op. 63: Tempo molto moderato, quasi adagio
2. Symphony No. 4 in A minor, Op. 63: Allegro molto vivace
3. Symphony No. 4 in A minor, Op. 63: Il tempo largo
4. Symphony No. 4 in A minor, Op. 63: Allegro
See all 7 tracks on this disc
Disc: 4
1. Symphony No. 6 in D minor, Op. 104: Allegro molto moderato
2. Symphony No. 6 in D minor, Op. 104: Allegretto moderato
3. Symphony No. 6 in D minor, Op. 104: Poco vivace
4. Symphony No. 6 in D minor, Op. 104: Allegro molto
See all 5 tracks on this disc
Disc: 5
1. Finlandia, tone poem for orchestra, Op. 26
2. Valse triste, for orchestra (from Kuolema), Op. 44/1
3. Night Ride & Sunrise (Öinen ratsastus ja auringonnousu), symphonic poem for orchestra, Op. 55
4. The Swan of Tuonela, tone poem for orchestra (Lemminkäinen Suite No. 3), Op. 22/3
See all 5 tracks on this disc

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sanderling's Sibelius: Brooding, slow, inevitable June 24, 2004
I like my Sibelius slower, rather than faster. And Kurt Sanderling is one of the few old-school European conductors whose grasp of tempo is absolutely rock steady. He can set a slower pace, even one that at first seems dangerously risky for a certain piece of music, and hold it so steady and so true that the musical argument or narrative unfolds as if there were no other way for it to unfold.
In my view, to my ear: this is exactly what Sibelius needs. Within the basic tempo, then, Sanderling lets all the frisky lights and brooding darks of Sibelius' real strangeness come through. Even in the first symphony, which gets short shrift by eveybody noting that it is too indebted to Tchaikovsky and others, Sanderling reveals that Sibelius had something new to say, even if he started with received forms.
By the second symphony, I am totally hooked. Deliberately, just as if far northern skies were brewing up fire or ice or northern lights, Sanderling just sits you down and shushes you into quiet so that you can experience it all, rather like being seated observantly in some almost non-humanized natural landscape. I suppose Sanderling's approach just wouldn't wash, except that his players (Berlin Symphony) can follow him and bring his unforced vision into being without fluffs or weaknesses or glitches of superficiality.
By taking Sibelius seriously, though not lacking in flashes of humor, Sanderling/BerlinS encourage us to see something truthful in all the mysterious, trembling and troubled volcanic shadows Sibelius could so uniquely conjur. I think people may sometimes not warm up to this sort of interpretation, since it hardly bothers to put much of a smiling human face on its representations of nature as evolving form and process.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very fine performances, MAJOR packaging gripe April 25, 2005
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With this set, once again Kurt Sanderling proves he is a major conductor swimming in a sea of mediocrity. Why this man never attained a major post is a mystery to me, unless he has never wanted one. This is generally first-class Sibelius and one of the very finest cycles out there. The few instances where it falls flat is due, I think, more to the limitations of the Berlin Symphony Orchestra (especially the trumpets, which are consistently weak) than to conceptual limitations of Sanderling--with one notable exception, and it seems to be the achilles heel of Sibelius cycles.

The First Symphony flies out the gate with one of the most exuberant performances I've ever heard. This is a *Romantic* First--appropriate since Sibelius was still in his heavily-Tchaikovsky influenced state when he wrote this work. The sweeping violins in the second movement are infectious, and scherzo is thrilling--a great all-around performance. The Second is the Second. If you love this big bear of a symphony you'll love this performance, but I don't, so let's move on to the Third. A superb Third it is, with drive (a great strong downbeat to the opening theme really gives it solidity and pulse); if the slow movement isn't played with the same line as Colin Davis/BSO/Philips, well, that's a high standard. (In many other ways, this set equals the Davis Boston set, which is very high praise in my book. I feel the Fourth is also just a shade below Davis, with a chilling opening and a superbly detailed and articulated scherzo--it's detail work like this where Sanderling shines. The slow movement isn't as amazing as Davis and the finale is a bit sluggish. The Fifth is the set's first disappointment. It starts promisingly with the same meticulous attention to detail, but the big brassy climax never explodes.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fine Performances, Slightly Dated Sonics March 31, 2007
I bought this because of the incredible bargain price. For someone who wants to familiarize themselves with the Sibelius symphonic canon but doesn't want to pay an arm and a leg, one could certainly do worse than get this set from Brilliant Classics. By the way, many huzzahs to Brilliant for their, ahem, brilliant marketing strategy of acquiring rights to reissue recordings from other labels at super-budget prices. I've gotten many wonderful recordings this way.

Kurt Sanderling, originally a protégé of Yevgeniy Mravinsky in Leningrad, was a marvelous conductor whose career was somewhat hampered by his being in East Germany during its most repressive years; he was a superb Brahms conductor, for instance. (He is the father of the currently well-regarded conductor, Thomas Sanderling.) And these recordings were made behind The Wall in East Berlin in 1976. The orchestra is fairly good but as an earlier reviewer said, the trumpets are a bit weak. This is a shame in Sibelius because he tends to use trumpets in quite exposed ways with those fanfares and upper range flourishes. The problem with the brass seems to be mostly one of intonation and it is not, to be fair, a major one, but noticeable from time to time nonetheless.

Sanderling's tempi tend to be broad and yet he manages to keep a certain tension and forward movement going. His Fourth is a bit tame, to my ears, missing the bite and snarl in that symphony. The more romantic of the symphonies -- Nos. 1, 2, 3, 5 particularly -- are done beautifully. The more radical ones are a bit less so.
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