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Thread: Sibelius complete symphonies

  1. #61
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    For complete sets, I have:
    Ashkenazy/Philharmonia, Barbirolli/Halle, Berglund/Helsinki, Saraste/Finnish RSO
    I also have plenty of Karajan, plus occasional Davis/Boston, Rattle/CBSO/Philharmonia.

    I got the Saraste set recently on Supraphon - one of their 199 Koruna specials, so why not? I have only so far listened to number 7 plus some tone poems. It seems really good, so I'm surprised to have noticed no mentions on this thread.

    Otherwise, Sibelius is a composer where I like most performances. They are pieces where I find that conductors struggle to ruin them. I seem to recall that years ago I had an LP (or even cassette - remember those) of Maazel doing number 4 and he managed to do a pretty bad job - but I can't remember why.

    I listen more to 3, 4, 6 and 7 than the others, and I probably visit Karajan most often among conductors as his 4, 6 and 7 are all great (so it's a shame he didn't do number 3) with the BPO on DG in the 60s. I think Ashkenazy did pretty well in 1 and 2. Rattle did a pretty good number 3 with the CBSO and a good 5 with the Philharmonia.

    Litening to number 3 with Saraste at the moment, and it seems pretty good - but then it always does.

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  3. #62
    Senior Member Kiki's Avatar
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    ^

    Glad you mentioned Saraste. His Sibelius has been mentioned often enough elsewhere in TC although like you said not in this thread. His Finlandia cycle with the Finish RSO is one of my favourites. It's spontaneous and idiomatic. His earlier RCA cycle sounds to me creamier, grander and safer.

    For me the overall speaking most satisfying cycle is Ashkenazy's first cycle with the Philharmonia on Decca. High tension throughout, and very well recorded. Only have got his 6 & 7 from his second cycle with the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra on Exton. Great stuff also.

    Apart from these, I've been impressed by Berglund (x3), Barbirolli and recently Rozhdestvensky. Have to confess I'm not a fan of Colin Davis and Karajan in Sibelius. While Simon Rattle is an acquired taste. His Berlin cycle has to be the most beautiful and gloriously played out there.

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  5. #63
    Senior Member CnC Bartok's Avatar
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    Another purchaser of the Supraphonline Saraste set here! Haven't had the chance to listen yet, but will do so soon.....

  6. #64
    Senior Member Knorf's Avatar
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    I didn't see it mentioned in this thread, so I'll just toss in that my favorite among more recent cycles is Okko Kamu and the Lahti Symphony Orchestra on BIS. That's an incredibly special set of performances and audiophile-quality recordings.

    One I've been curious about but have seen very little reaction to is Rattle/Berlin. Is that because it's own their own label? (I've noticed that reviewers as well as recording collectors have had weirdly suspicious reactions to orchestra releases on their own labels.) Or is the Sibelius set just bland and lacking in distinction, like almost all Rattle?

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  8. #65
    Senior Member HenryPenfold's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Knorf View Post
    I didn't see it mentioned in this thread, so I'll just toss in that my favorite among more recent cycles is Okko Kamu and the Lahti Symphony Orchestra on BIS. That's an incredibly special set of performances and audiophile-quality recordings.

    One I've been curious about but have seen very little reaction to is Rattle/Berlin. Is that because it's own their own label? (I've noticed that reviewers as well as recording collectors have had weirdly suspicious reactions to orchestra releases on their own labels.) Or is the Sibelius set just bland and lacking in distinction, like almost all Rattle?
    I bought the Rattle BPO because I found it as a crazy under £10 bargain 24/96 Hi-Res download. I've only heard it through twice, but I find it unremarkable. Bland, unlike his Mahler 2, 9 & 10, Szymanowski, 2VS, Maw, Debussy, Ravel and Nielsen concerts (which are all superb).

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    Senior Member Merl's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by HenryPenfold View Post
    I bought the Rattle BPO because I found it as a crazy under £10 bargain 24/96 Hi-Res download. I've only heard it through twice, but I find it unremarkable. Bland, unlike his Mahler 2, 9 & 10, Szymanowski, 2VS, Maw, Debussy, Ravel and Nielsen concerts (which are all superb).
    Agreed about Rattle's BPO Sibelius... Bland. Not awful, just unremarkable. Kamu gets a thumbs up from me too. I find it increasingly difficult to pick a fave cycle though.

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  11. #67
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    Quote Originally Posted by Knorf View Post
    I didn't see it mentioned in this thread, so I'll just toss in that my favorite among more recent cycles is Okko Kamu and the Lahti Symphony Orchestra on BIS. That's an incredibly special set of performances and audiophile-quality recordings.

    One I've been curious about but have seen very little reaction to is Rattle/Berlin. Is that because it's own their own label? (I've noticed that reviewers as well as recording collectors have had weirdly suspicious reactions to orchestra releases on their own labels.) Or is the Sibelius set just bland and lacking in distinction, like almost all Rattle?
    Love the side-swipe.

    I'm not particularly pro or anti Rattle, but that was a beautiful destruction in passing.

  12. #68
    Senior Member CnC Bartok's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Knorf View Post
    I didn't see it mentioned in this thread, so I'll just toss in that my favorite among more recent cycles is Okko Kamu and the Lahti Symphony Orchestra on BIS. That's an incredibly special set of performances and audiophile-quality recordings.

    One I've been curious about but have seen very little reaction to is Rattle/Berlin. Is that because it's own their own label? (I've noticed that reviewers as well as recording collectors have had weirdly suspicious reactions to orchestra releases on their own labels.) Or is the Sibelius set just bland and lacking in distinction, like almost all Rattle?
    I'm ignoring the sideswipe, but weighing in with a similarly positive evaluation of the BIS Kamu set.
    Last edited by CnC Bartok; Sep-25-2020 at 20:37.

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  14. #69
    Senior Member Knorf's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Merl View Post
    Agreed about Rattle's BPO Sibelius... Bland. Not awful, just unremarkable. Kamu gets a thumbs up from me too. I find it increasingly difficult to pick a fave cycle though.
    I certainly agree. Kamu for me is one favorite, most clearly my favorite among recent cycles, but there are many good ones, and some I have not heard, such as Rattle, but it sounds like I need not bother with that one.

    Quote Originally Posted by Eclectic Al View Post
    Love the side-swipe.

    I'm not particularly pro or anti Rattle, but that was a beautiful destruction in passing.
    Apologies: that was probably unnecessary. But Rattle is consistently a major disappointment to me, especially for someone so long at the helm of the Berliner Philharmoniker!

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    Senior Member Merl's Avatar
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    I'm not pro or anti Rattle but neither of his Sibelius cycles are wholly impressive. He's done good stuff elsewhere, though. It's not all bad news.

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    Senior Member Simplicissimus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Knorf View Post
    I didn't see it mentioned in this thread, so I'll just toss in that my favorite among more recent cycles is Okko Kamu and the Lahti Symphony Orchestra on BIS. That's an incredibly special set of performances and audiophile-quality recordings.

    One I've been curious about but have seen very little reaction to is Rattle/Berlin. Is that because it's own their own label? (I've noticed that reviewers as well as recording collectors have had weirdly suspicious reactions to orchestra releases on their own labels.) Or is the Sibelius set just bland and lacking in distinction, like almost all Rattle?
    I just found the Okko Kamu/Lahti SO Sib cycle on my streaming service a couple of weeks ago and wow, it’s spectacular. I’m getting it in 24-bit/96 kHz FLAC sound, too. Previously I’d heard some of Okko Kamu’s Sib with the Berliner Philharmoniker and Helsinki Radio SO, but this with the Lahti sounds better to me. For years I’ve sworn by the Ormandy/Philadelphia cycle (my only cycle on CD) but this new one is definitely my new #1. ArkivMusic has the set on SACD for $40... an early birthday present perhaps.

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  20. #72
    Senior Member Kiki's Avatar
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    Sounds like there isn't much love for Rattle's Berlin set. I wouldn't rate it as high as my favourites, but have to admit I've been marvelled by how beautiful it sounds.

    Hadn't heard any of Kamu's Sibelius so I went to Spotify. Went through 3 and 6 once. 3 is solid. 6 is nice, but the 2nd movement is a bit too moderato or me. It sounds squarish. (Barbirolli was equally slow but it doesn't sound squarish.) Have to admit my level of interest has dropped... which of Kamu's seven would you recommend sampling outside of 3 & 6?

  21. #73
    Senior Member JAS's Avatar
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    I think Rattle's recording of the 5th symphony is good.

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  23. #74
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    Not perhaps a complete set of the symphonies by one conductor but valuable non the less.
    Warner has a set of historical recordings mainly recorded in the thirties as part of the HMV Sibelius society 78 boxes. Originally it was intended that the symphonies be recorded by Robert Kajanus, a conductor friend of the composer and his preferred interpreter. Unfortunately he only managed to record no’s 1,2,3 and 5 before his untimely death and Beecham and Koussevitsky completed the set. The sound is obviously not hi fi but it is perfectly listenable to. The set also includes most of his other orchestral music including the Heifetz/Beecham violin concerto and his string quartet.
    Now I would never suggest this should be your only Sibelius in your collection but it is an invaluable guide to what the composer may have intended.
    If I had to suggest one stereo set I would opt for Barbirolli and the Halle. Yes the orchestra was good but certainly not world class and towards the end of his life Barbirolli tended to expansivity but it is clear that the conductor was in love with the music and that is worth a great deal. A more central interpretation which is highly recommended is that by Colin Davis, either with the Boston or London Symphony Orchestras but I really think Sir John has more to offer.

  24. #75
    Senior Member Allegro Con Brio's Avatar
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    The three cycles I regard most highly are probably Bernstein, Berglund/Bournemouth, and Collins in that order. Berglund sounds most “idiomatic” to me, Collins makes the music sing and dance, but Bernstein simply lights the music on fire and projects it with dazzling colors.
    "If we understood the world, we would realize that there is a logic of harmony underlying its manifold apparent dissonances." - Jean Sibelius

    "Art, like morality, consists of drawing the line somewhere." - G.K. Chesterton

    "Ceaseless work, analysis, reflection, writing much, endless self-correction, that is my secret." - Johann Sebastian Bach

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