Notes and Editorial Reviews
This is a hybrid Super Audio CD playable on both regular and Super Audio CD players.
If Colin Davis had had the self-discipline to quit while he was ahead, with this Sibelius cycle, I have no doubt he would have been considered one of the great Sibelius conductors in recorded history. Alas, he went on to remake the entire cycle disastrously with the LSO for RCA, and then again, much improved but still somewhat patchy, with the LSO for the orchestra's own label. This leads us to ask the musical question: How much of the credit for the excellence of these performances should go to the conductor, and how much to an orchestra that since the days of Koussevitsky has always been an outstanding exponent of this music? I leave it to
you to decide.
Certainly, Davis does not deserve recognition for the incomparable timpani playing that makes the coda of the Fifth's first movement the finest ever recorded. Nor does the sterling work of the woodwind section require any encouragement from him. On the other hand, I'm more than happy to acknowledge the effortless sense of flow that he brings to both works--from the transition between sections in the Fifth's first movement, to the organic unfolding of the Seventh's various sections, to the really exciting climaxes of En Saga (with a juicy bass drum and nicely gnarly brass). So maybe it's a 50/50 collaboration, and wonderful by any definition. The SACD multichannel sonics work surprisingly well. They don't sacrifice impact, nor do they put too much information into the rear channels. In short, this is terrific on its own, but also a troubling reminder of the oddly spotty podium career of an undeniably talented conductor. [4/24/2008]
--David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday.com
Works on This Recording
En saga, Op. 9 by Jean Sibelius
Sir Colin Davis
Boston Symphony Orchestra
Written: 1892/1902; Finland
Length: 17 Minutes 53 Secs.
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