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Sibelius: Symphonies Nos. 5, 6 & 7 / Tone Poems
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Symph. n°5 op.82, n°6 op.104, n°7 op.105 - Poèmes : La Fille de Pohjola, op.49 - Océanides, op.73 - Le Cygne de Tuonela, op.22 - Tapiola, op.112 - Finlandia, op.26 / Utah Symphony Orch., dir. Maurice Abravanel - London Philharmonic Orch., dir. Adrian Boult
- Product Dimensions : 5 x 5.75 x 0.5 inches; 3.2 Ounces
- Manufacturer : Vanguard Classics
- SPARS Code : DDD
- Date First Available : July 26, 2006
- Label : Vanguard Classics
- ASIN : B0000B1A21
- Number of discs : 2
- Best Sellers Rank: #926,552 in CDs & Vinyl (See Top 100 in CDs & Vinyl)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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But the second CD in this bargain two-fer contains really commendable readings of Sibelius tone poems from Adrian Boult and the London Phil. The sound is mostly clear and warm, especially considering that the date was 1956. Boult is at his best--alert, never heavy, always moving the line forward. I found myself engaged all the way through, and even though an admirer of Karajan's Sibelius, I must admit that by being more small-sacled and somewhat rough, Boult's readings might be closer to what the commposer probably had in mind.
Many listeners will like Abravanel's low-key Sibelius better than I do, which would make this set a great bargain, especially at Amazon Marketplace prices.
For example, the recordings of Sibelius symphonies 1, 3 and 4, recorded in May 1977 at the Mormon Tabernacle in Salt Lake City, are included in this Bach Guild release:
Little Big Sibelius Box
Presumably the remaining performances will also be released by the Bach Guild, perhaps in a 'Volume 2' version of their 'Little Big' box.
I have these as part of the above mentioned Bach Guild release, and am enjoying them now. For those able to enjoy music in download form, it is an excellent way to obtain these (and many other) great recordings.
I find Abravanel's Sibelius compeling. It brings out exciting differences, and that, at least for me, a Sibelius fan who tries to hear every Sibelius recording out there, means something. The sonics are very good (as they always were with this team). The only quibble is the lack of sophistication by the string section. But we knew that already.
What I find inadequate is the Boult. His take on Sibelius does not make me forget these are MONAURAL 1956 recordings. That means something for me in Sibelius music. Only conductors such as Barbirolli, Beecham or Stokowski make me forget the sonics. Here, I do not feel the music "opening up" and saying something beyond the limitations of the sound. Could it be that this comes from a transcript of a good Mono LP? I swear I heard some clicks that remind me of my "record" days. Knowing already what shabby work this company (Artemis) has done with other issues, I would not be surprised.
I hope Mr. Solomon is enjoying his time up in heaven and does not look down to see what music marketing incompetents are doing with his productions.
Top reviews from other countries
I've known these performances for many years and have returned to them frequently no matter what latest new versions I may have acquired. These new remastering by Praga are astonishing given the age of the tapes and they certainly show a real improvement on the good sound that EMI had previously managed. All the performances are enhanced by both clarity and depth of sound. I felt I was hearing them again for the first time. I had thought this 7th to be inferior to the remake made later in Berlin - that it was too slow and laboured in the first half before eventually managing to find its own feet. To my great surprise it's now a revelatory performance out of the common run, an absolute gobsmacking stunner. Congratulation to all involved in revitalising a magnificent set.
De même, l'ultime « Septième » gomme ses conflits latents pour déployer une sérénité apaisante, tamisée par un lyrisme diaphane.
D'une nervure tout aussi délicate, la « Cinquième » manque un peu de volume et d'arêtes, mais pas de tension : écoutez la nervosité virevoltante des cordes au début de l'allegro molto !
Les reliefs de ces trois opus se trouvent aplanis, comme si le chef souhaitait classiciser le langage du compositeur finlandais.
En contraste total avec de tels raffinements, les enregistrements de Adrian Boult réalisés en 1956 avec une Philharmonie de Londres étonnamment charnue surprendront par leur densité sonore et narrative, renforcée par une prise de son hautement dynamique qui sollicite constamment l'oreille.
Les tribulations du héros Vainamoinen pour conquérir la fille de Pohjola sont animées avec une verve captivante.
Le crescendo des « Océanides » est terrifiant.
Le « Cygne de Tuonela » hante pernicieusement les eaux noires du lugubre Royaume de Manala.
Le célèbre « Finlandia » s'attise d'une hargne quasi insurrectionnelle.
Et écoutez la trépidante « Chevauchée nocturne » qui galope le mors aux dents dans une chasse sauvage aux instincts carnassiers, soutenue par la battue haletante de la percussion.
Quant à « Tapiola », cette évocation de la forêt carélienne se retrouve peuplée de créatures étranges et baigne dans un climat oppressant, exacerbé par la direction expressionniste du chef anglais.
Avec Boult, l'on est heureux de retrouver en CD ces témoignages déjà demi séculaires qui rendent à l'univers sibelien sa part d'ombre et de sang, habituellement oblitérée par des interprétations qui versent trop facilement dans l'impressionnisme.