My first LP versions of these symphonies were Davis's in Boston, which sort of formed my consciousness of how these pieces should go. These 1992 remakes are rather different. On the plus side, the performances are treated to excellent sound engineering, much better than on Davis's previous recordings. The London Symphony plays beautifully, with perhaps less oomph than Boston but with great suavity and subtlety. From this standpoint, there is much to enjoy. On the other hand, Davis has slowed down his performance of the Third tremendously. The coda to the first movement and the entire second movement almost limp along. Granted, much detail is clarified here, but the Boston recording was so much more exciting. As for the Fifth, it is relatively similar to the epic Boston reading, if perhaps just a little slower. The London brass in the finale are fully the equals of their Boston counterparts, and this is clearly a major statement of the Fifth. I have not heard Davis's LSO Live remakes of these symphonies, but I would encourage all but the most hard core Davis fans to look elsewhere.
on September 25, 2006
If you prefer your Sibelius tight and dark, this coupling is fine but I like my Sibelius open and bright. Davis is a great conductor but these performances sound stiff, although No. 5 has much more life. Nothing wrong with the marketplace price, but I would look elsewhere.