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1. Sym No.2 in D, Op.43: I. Allegretto
2. Sym No.2 in D, Op.43: II. Tempo Andante Ma Rubato
3. Sym No.2 in D, Op.43: III. Vivacissimo; Lento E Suave
4. Sym No.2 in D, Op.43: IV. FInale: Allegro Moderato
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December 22, 2014
Format: Audio CD
In the move from from the third to the fourth movements, and in the build-up of tension and partial resolutions in the finale prior to the coda, Sibelius's great Second Symphony seems his most Beethoven-like work. The sound world, however, couldn't be more different, owing something to Tchaikovsky in places but on the whole coming across as quite distinctive and austere but with no lack of power. Bernstein's 1966 recording has been well-remastered -- only in the upper strings does it betray its age a bit -- and Bernstein's control of the development in all movements is gripping here, as is his ability to build to the climactic moments with great power and feeling. He manages the frequent pregnant pauses and transitions as well as any conductor I've heard, and there's no attempt to sweeten or soften the tonal palette -- in this respect, he reminds me of Berglund, whose wonderful performance with the Helsinki Symphony Orchestra is perhaps my favorite for this symphony. I notice that this particular issue, in the CBS pre-Sony "Great Performances" series, can be had from Amazon for practically pennies. It's also available in a variety of formats with pairings or as part of a box. If you are into Sibelius's music, you should get it.