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Sibelius: Symphonies Nos. 1, 2, 3 & 4 Import

4.7 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews

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Audio CD, Import, June 3, 2014
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Editorial Reviews

High On The List Of Requests For Reissues From Decca Are Anthony Collins's Recordings Of Sibelius's Symphonies. Lovingly Remastered From The Original Tapes, They Make Their First Cd Appearance On The Decca Label As Two 2-cd Sets. See Also Sibelius: Symphonies Nos. 5, 6 & 7 / Orchestral Works. "the Name Anthony Collins (1893-1963) Probably Doesn't Mean A Great Deal To The Majority Of Younger Gramophone Readers, But For Quite A Few Serious Sibelius Aficionados His 1950s Decca Recordings Hold Cult Status. Collins's Readings Possess A Red-blooded Fervour And Thrusting Energy To Which Many Will Rightly Respond." - Gramophone. Composers: Sibelius. Conductors: Anthony Collins. Orchestras: London Symphony Orchestra.

Product Details

  • Orchestra: London Symphony Orchestra
  • Conductor: Anthony Collins
  • Composer: Jean Sibelius
  • Audio CD (June 3, 2014)
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Format: Import
  • Label: Decca
  • ASIN: B00104CIPK
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #51,059 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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I bought Collins LPs of #1 & #2 in the 60s on London's low-priced Richmond label, after mono records like these became passe' when stereo burst upon the scene. However, Martin Bookspan, in Stereo Review circa 60, still loved Collins' Sibelius, as well as Kousivitsky's, as did I.

After I gave all my 3000 LPs to the local library, most Sibelius recordings I heard seemed tame and uninspired. In a weak moment, I ordered these from Amazon, suspecting I had nostalgically over-rated those performances. I was pleased I was even more impressed upon listening to them now, after decades of experiencing a variety of other conductors, live and on CDs.

Collins has an affinity and flair for Sibelius that he never seemed to matched with other composers. Most Amazon Sibelius reviewers omit mentioning Collins in their comparisons and I suspect are unaware of him. However, Hiram Gomez Pardo writes"...the Second belongs to Anthony Collins (forget about any other recording ever made; this is a supreme musical document); the Third has in Collins another serious contender...." Jeffrey Lee adds"...It is quite obvious that I think very highly of Anthony Collins' interpretations (of Sibelius). His commanding dynamics, emotional sensitivity and attention to color and detail affirm a level of quality that is consistently excellent...."

Besides intensity, cultivated phrasing, and emotional heaving, Collins elevates the drama by having his tympanist add incisive punctuation at key points. For instance, in the coda of #2, he adds a third beat to echo the melody. Koussevitzky also used that tympani triplet in his '35 and '50 recordings, as does Mackerras in '94 and Maksymiuk in '95, but with less dramatic effect then Collins.
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Anthony Collins (1893-1963), a conductor more renowned as an interpreter of light classics, would nowadays be a name unknown to most music lovers. This fact notwithstanding, these Sibelius recordings, made between 1952 and 1954, have long been famous for the vitality and authenticity of the interpretations. The quality of the Decca mono sound is also amazingly vivid given its vintage.

Although all the symphonies are superbly executed, it is Symphony No 1 that is the most memorable. It is a taut, dramatic performance that puts most other versions in the shade.

These recordings were previously expensive.They are now reissued at a budget price on the excellent Eloquence label. If you are a Sibelius fan, this should be an obligatory purchase.
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The Collins cycle of the Sibelius symphonies was one of the first two integral sets made by a single conductor, the other being that with Sixten Ehrling and the Stockholm Orchestra. Despite their monaural sound, both hold up relatively well sonically, with this set having the edge. More to the point, those two sets are overall among the great Sibelius cycles ever recorded. Both are on the fleet side, moving with taut rhythm and fluidity and refusing to wallow in pseudo-Russified languor. Each set has its respective high points; Ehrling is nonpareil in the Third and Sixth Symphonies, whereas Collins is stronger in the Second and Fifth. Among cycles in stereo sound, the only ones I would place alongside these are Ashkenazy on Decca and Sakari Oramo on Erato/Warner.
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Sibelius: Symphonies Nos. 1, 2, 3 & 4
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