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Colin Davis Conducts Sibelius


Release Date: 08/26/2014 
Label:  Rca   Catalog #: 431352   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Jean Sibelius
Performer:  Hillevi MartinpeltoKarl Magnus Fredriksson
Conductor:  Sir Colin Davis
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony OrchestraLondon Symphony Chorus
Number of Discs: 7 
Recorded in: Stereo 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

Reviews of some of the original recordings that make up this set:

Symphonies 1 & 4
Sir Colin Davis's Sibelius cycle at London's Barbican Centre some years ago gained immediate recognition. Andrew Porter went as far as to compare it with that of Furtwangler's post-war Beethoven cycle in London. The ensuing recordings have lived up to the high expectations of that cycle. The Fourth was always one of the triumphs of his Boston survey on Philips. Along with the 1937 Beecham and the 1954 Philharmonia (Columbia, 5/54 — nla) and 1966 Berlin Philharmonic Karajan sets, the Colin Davis was one of the most inward and searching readings committed to disc, and his recent Sixth with the LSO was masterly.
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Berglund's players are keen and fresh but not so deeply immersed in the idiom as are the LSO. We are not long — indeed barely a few bars — into the first movement of the Fourth before we realize that we are in a totally different world from the Berglund. There is a far greater sense of breadth (Sir Colin allows himself more space and takes nearly 1055" to Berglund's 9'23") but it is in terms of imaginative insight that Davis scores. Berglund offers carefully delineated contours and outlines, as well as giving a good monochrome picture of this world. Davis takes us completely inside it — we become part of it and feel we inhabit it. To my mind Sir Colin's Fourth is the finest and most powerful reading of the work to have emerged since the days of Karajan.

-- Gramophone [1/1997]

Symphonies 2 & 6
This second instalment of Davis’s new Sibelius cycle is purest gold. Hardly a phrase in these performances passes without new light being shed on it, and yet there is a strong feeling of spontaneity throughout. Davis’s readings are far from conventional; he often focuses on the darker sides of these symphonies, bringing out rarely heard depths in the Second and adding a fascinating new dimension to the Sixth. In both, he projects a strong sense of narrative and in the Second Symphony guides the argument toward the finale with overwhelming results – the appearance of the big tune gains immeasurably from a determined lack of sensationalism. Still more revealing is the finale of the Sixth: along with the expected ‘pastoral’ reflection he finds more than a hint of menace.

Davis is admirably served by the LSO. The strings respond to the detail of his interpretation with superb flexibility, and wind and brass groups are richly voiced. There is a wealth of magically observed orchestral detail, with the start of the slow movement of the Second Symphony – a polar-bear growl from the timpani and singing pizzicato – being especially memorable. These performances command attention and will satisfy listeners for many years to come.

Performance: 5 (out of 5), Sound: 5 (out of 5)

-- Jan Smaczny, BBC Music Magazine

Symphony no 7, Kullervo, En Saga
Those who recall Sir Colin Davis's performance with the LSO of Kullervo at London's Barbican Centre in 1992 (subsequently televised) will not have forgotten its epic sweep and magisterial control. We have had to wait five years for his reading to reach the catalogue during which time there have been numerous rivals. All the alternatives since the original issue of Paavo Berglund's Helsinki account have accommodated Kullervo on one CD. Sir Colin's (at nearly 81 minutes) runs to two and brings us not only Sibelius's first essay in the form but also his last. The set also includes two other works conceived in the 1890s, En Saga, from 1893, revised for Busoni's celebrated New Music concerts in 1901, and Rakastava composed originally for a cappella voices in 1894 and reworked for strings and timpani in 1911. Although Davis recorded En Saga with the Boston orchestra (Philips, 3/82 — nla), I don't recall his giving us an earlier account of Rakastava, one of Sibelius's most affecting pieces. It is affectingly played, too, though I do feel that Sir Colin makes rather heavy weather of the last movement where the farewells seem to be overcharged and too protracted. I liked the earlier version of En Saga and like this every bit as much. In his hands the Seventh Symphony, which he has always done as to the manner born, is by turns powerful, epic and serene, its climaxes expertly placed.

But to turn to Kullervo: what works in the concert-hall may not make the same impression when heard in the intimacy of the home. First, let me say that the LSO play with refinement and spirit, and the London Symphony Chorus are responsive even if, in the opening of the last move ment, they do not quite surpass the deeper, darker basses of the Finnish and Estonian choirs on rival issues. They are excellent in the middle movement. The first movement is slower than I had remembered it — certainly slower than the 1958 performance by Sibelius's son-in-law, Jussi Jalas, which brought this piece alive again after its long slumber. Yet after a few bars it struck me as being exactly right. It is spacious and broad (three minutes longer than most rivals) which underlines the Brucknerian feeling to the piece. Bruckner's Third Symphony made a great impression on Sibelius during his year in Vienna when the first ideas of Kullervo were forming in his mind. The slow movement, "Kullervo's Youth", is splendidly characterized, as is the central "Kullervo and his Sister" movement. Karl-Magnus Fredriksson may not be quite as dark-toned as Hynninen, or the admirable Hillevi Martinpelto quite as authoritative as Isokowski or Groop, but they both acquit themselves well. The remaining two movements seem to me to be paced with unerring judgement. Strangely enough, looking at the figures Davis takes about ten minutes longer than such an echt Sibelian as Paavo Berglund and yet at no point does it feel it.

Every time I hear it I am puzzled that Sibelius should have entertained such strong doubts about Kullervo as to discourage performances during his lifetime. There are many fine versions listed above and I would not want to praise this excellently recorded newcomer at their expense. All that I need say, I think, is that Sir Colin's is a performance of commanding stature that reveals Kullervo as the great work it is. At the end I wanted to applaud.

-- Gramophone [12/1997]


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Works on This Recording

1.
Symphony no 1 in E minor, Op. 39 by Jean Sibelius
Conductor:  Sir Colin Davis
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1899; Finland 
2.
Symphony no 2 in D major, Op. 43 by Jean Sibelius
Conductor:  Sir Colin Davis
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1901-1902; Finland 
3.
Symphony no 3 in C major, Op. 52 by Jean Sibelius
Conductor:  Sir Colin Davis
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1907; Finland 
4.
Symphony no 4 in A minor, Op. 63 by Jean Sibelius
Conductor:  Sir Colin Davis
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1911; Finland 
5.
Symphony no 5 in E flat major, Op. 82 by Jean Sibelius
Conductor:  Sir Colin Davis
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1915/1919; Finland 
6.
Symphony no 6 in D minor, Op. 104 by Jean Sibelius
Conductor:  Sir Colin Davis
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1923; Finland 
7.
Symphony no 7 in C major, Op. 105 by Jean Sibelius
Conductor:  Sir Colin Davis
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1924; Finland 
8.
En saga, Op. 9 by Jean Sibelius
Conductor:  Sir Colin Davis
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1892/1902; Finland 
9.
Karelia Suite, Op. 11 by Jean Sibelius
Conductor:  Sir Colin Davis
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1893; Finland 
10.
Finlandia, Op. 26 by Jean Sibelius
Conductor:  Sir Colin Davis
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: Finland 
11.
Lemminkäinen Suite, Op. 22 by Jean Sibelius
Conductor:  Sir Colin Davis
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1893/1895; Finland 
12.
Oceanides, Op. 73 by Jean Sibelius
Conductor:  Sir Colin Davis
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1914; Finland 
13.
Pohjola's daughter, Op. 49 by Jean Sibelius
Conductor:  Sir Colin Davis
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1906; Finland 
14.
Tapiola, Op. 112 by Jean Sibelius
Conductor:  Sir Colin Davis
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1926; Finland 
15.
The Bard, Op. 64 by Jean Sibelius
Conductor:  Sir Colin Davis
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1913/1914; Finland 
16.
Nightride and sunrise, Op. 55 by Jean Sibelius
Conductor:  Sir Colin Davis
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1907; Finland 
17.
Kuolema: Valse triste, Op. 44 no 1 by Jean Sibelius
Conductor:  Sir Colin Davis
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1903-1904; Finland 
18.
Rakastava, Op. 14: Suite for String Orchestra, Triangle and Timpani by Jean Sibelius
Conductor:  Sir Colin Davis
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1911-1912; Finland 
19.
Kullervo, Op. 7: Introduction by Jean Sibelius
Conductor:  Sir Colin Davis
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1892; Finland 
20.
Kullervo, Op. 7: Kullervo's Youth by Jean Sibelius
Conductor:  Sir Colin Davis
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1892; Finland 
21.
Kullervo, Op. 7: Kullervo and his Sister by Jean Sibelius
Performer:  Hillevi Martinpelto (Soprano), Karl Magnus Fredriksson (Baritone)
Conductor:  Sir Colin Davis
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra,  London Symphony Chorus
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1892; Finland 
Language: Finnish 
22.
Kullervo, Op. 7: Kullervo goes to War by Jean Sibelius
Conductor:  Sir Colin Davis
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1892; Finland 
23.
Kullervo, Op. 7: Kullervo's Death by Jean Sibelius
Performer:  Karl Magnus Fredriksson (Baritone), Hillevi Martinpelto (Soprano)
Conductor:  Sir Colin Davis
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra,  London Symphony Chorus
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1892; Finland 
Language: Finnish 

Customer Reviews

Average Customer Review:  3 Customer Reviews )
 Best yet February 12, 2014 By David A. (San Antonio, TX) See All My Reviews "Davis's Sibelius is by far the best recordings of Sibelius I've ever heard. Good bargain, too." Report Abuse
 Uneven performances September 25, 2013 By Frank Paris (Happy Valley, OR) See All My Reviews "Was extremely disappointed in the orchestral balance of the 2nd. In spots it sounded like chaos. However, the 5th is just about the best performance of that work I've ever heard. Profoundly moving, and perhaps worth the price of this inexpensive set. The others are pretty good." Report Abuse
 WOW! Spectacular! September 13, 2013 By David Eicher (Los Angeles, CA) See All My Reviews "I have been listening to (and playing) classical music for more than 50 years. As a 'cellist I was introduced to the Sibelius Symphonies 1, 2, and 5 as a teenager in the Michigan Youth Symphony and at the National Music Camp in Interlochen, MI. The performances in this collection are hands down simply the finest I have ever heard, particularly in Symphony #5 (one of my all-time favorite orchestral pieces). The dynamic range from pianissimo to fortissimo is absolutely breathtaking. I highly recommend this set to anyone who reads my words." Report Abuse
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