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Complete Symphonies Box set

4.3 out of 5 stars 12 customer reviews

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Audio CD, Box set, March 21, 2006
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (March 21, 2006)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 4
  • 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: Ondine
  • ASIN: B000CQNVSU
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #145,433 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
If you have loved the Sibelius Symphonies as I have and have been searching for the one set to buy, this is that set. A Finnish conductor and orchestra make it all the better. The recorded sound is amazingingly clear and deep. The performances are rich, detailed and have a great urgency to them. There is I would say a tension to the performaces and excitement and more warmth than so much of the "icy" Sibelius that is out there on CD. The second is taken at a slower pace than some, but at no expense of structure. The first is my personal favorite in the set. Many conductors I think treat this as an early "romantic" Sibelius work (as though it is not "real" Sibelius) and it often comes off rather Tchaikovsky-ish. Not so here as here it definately sounds like Sibelius. I was also very impressed with the 7th, which despite its short length comes off as having great size and breadth, feeling more like a symphony at the length of a tone poem. My only gripe is the recording of the Sibelius violin concerto, which is simply not worthy of the rest of the set. Fortunately there are many good recordings of that concerto available.

The version of Finlandia in this set features chorus with it and it is sublime. A great bonus with the 7 symphonies.
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Having just digested seven complete sets of Sibelius' symphonies, I too can pick and choose amongst the splendid offerings and find treasures. To my mind and ear, none of the complete sets are "clunkers". In fact, I find all of them to have great merit. I must admit, I do especially love Barbirolli and Collins.. the brashness of Davis(BSO)and Von K.'s suaveness and beauty, especially the 7th. But the Segerstam set really is all around exemplary. Fine performances, chilly yet with passion. Superb, realistic sound and interpretations that, while some might quibble with, are personal and interesting. Great set. Five stars!
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By MatteoD on January 22, 2010
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
There are some things to admire and some to regret with these recordings. The performances are well recorded with rich, detailed sound, but they are too often on the slack side. In addition it seems Segerstam feels the need to go over the top with idiosyncratic phrasing and tempi. The 2nd Symphony for instance. Segerstam has this going in fine form with powerful, expansive sound until he gets to the finale. There, in an attempt to create emphasis and passion, he inserts an odd hesitation preceding each proclamation of the main theme, like a singer taking a dramatic, deep breath before belting out a line. It sounds contrived and adds nothing. That theme can only be described as an anthem and accordingly must be delivered straight-up and unaffected. Then there is the 5th. Here Segerstam gets even further along before derailing. It's a full bodied performance, recorded with transparency, the famous Swan Hymn delivered majestically, but he so exaggerates the accelerando in the closing bars that it detracts from the structure of the entire work. The accelerando is there in the score, and is heard in every performance to different degrees, but not as Segerstam presents it. The first time I listened I was truly taken up in the experience...and then that! "What the...? Aarrgghhh!" It is truly jarring.

The other symphonies are more successful overall. The 3rd has a full bodied, athletic character that is unusual for this work but effective. The 4th is straightforward, appropriately dark and brooding, again with expansive sound. But perhaps a bit tepid. I am not as enthused by the 6th as some seem to be. It's OK, but a bit too broad for my tastes. I prefer a more taut, crystalline reading of this work. The 1st is very powerful and atmospheric, as is the 7th.
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I bought this with great anticipation, and maybe I was expecting too much after reading such excellent reviews. But in general it doesn't really please me. First, while the sound is rich and velvety, it seems somehow a little muffled at the same time. Sibelius needs space and atmosphere (in recording quality as well as playing), and the lack of hall ambiance here contributed somewhat to my disappointment. It seems a little closed in.

A few observations about Segerstam's style: Segerstam's 7th is taken at a quite fast tempo (21 minutes) which, to these ears, denies it the breadth and power we usually associated with Sibelius (and which is definitely--or should be--present in the 7th). Some woodwind phrases with fast repeated notes end up sounding oddly jaunty, skippy, or clipped, not at all in keeping with the character of the work. The tempos of conductors such as Karajan or Sanderling, who take around 23-24 minutes to get through this, result in a different kind of feeling in those passages. And they are better able to maintain tautness and dramatic tension from beginning to end, while also providing a much stronger ending than Segerstam does.

In the 1st there was a different kind of problem. After the quiet opening of the first movement, what should be the more powerful opening rhythms of the movement proper end up in Segerstam's hands sounding a little jumbled and unclear, and therefore lose their effect. It was hard for me to feel this was the product of a first-rank conductor.

These are just some of my initial impressions. The comments of another reviewer here, describing Segerstam's Sibelius as somewhat soft-edged and richly textured, lacking in taut, clean lines, seem pretty accurate. For a complete set of the symphonies in good modern sound, for the moment I'm happier with the Sanderling set.
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