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Site last updated
26 June, 2013

Jean Sibelius
Recommended Recordings



Finlandia, Valse triste, etc
(Louis Rosenblatt; New York Philharmonic Orchestra, Philadelphia Orchestra; Leonard Bernstein and Eugene Ormandy, conducting)
This budget-priced disc contains some very fine performances. Eugene Ormandy and Leonard Bernstein were both dedicated Sibelius interpreters, and their approaches are both complementary and shrewdly highlighted in this collection. Bernstein is represented by a single work: Pohjola's Daughter. This is not only Sibelius's finest tone poem, but this performance has also long been regarded as the best available. Ormandy, on the other hand, selected the kind of Romantic, colorful music that he always conducted with special authority, and the Philadelphia Orchestra makes some gorgeous sounds, particularly in the Valse Triste and The Swan of Tuonela. A bargain. (review by David Hurwitz)

The Complete Symphonies Vol 1
(Boston Symphony Orchestra; Sir Colin Davis, conductor)
As so often happens in the classical record business, Sir Colin Davis has been busily rerecording all of this music for RCA, with the London Symphony. And because he's an English conductor working with an English orchestra, the British critics are raving, as if these earlier, much better, and much less expensive versions didn't even exist. Well, ignore the hype. Not only does the Boston Symphony play rings around today's London Symphony Orchestra (Davis's current group), but they are much better recorded too. This first Sibelius cycle was a prime recommendation when it first came out, and it still is, plain and simple. (review by David Hurwitz)

The Complete Symphonies Vol 2
(Salvatore Accardo; Boston Symphony Orchestra, London Symphony Orchestra; Sir Colin Davis)
It was clever of Philips to couple Sibelius's least popular symphonies with the extremely popular Violin Concerto and tone poems. Don't let the words "least popular" scare you off, however. If you like Sibelius, you'll love the Third and Sixth Symphonies. The latter, in particular, is one of the most purely beautiful pieces of music in the history of sound; its only flaw is a quiet ending that makes conductors unwilling to play it at live concerts. Sir Colin Davis and the Boston Symphony perform all of this music with idiomatic flair and unflagging enthusiasm. These versions are far superior to Davis's recent remakes on RCA, and a lot cheaper too. So go ahead, indulge. (review by David Hurwitz)

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