This set contains some of Sibelius' best and most unfamiliar work, as well as some pretty utilitarian cantatas and patriotic songs (in multiple versions). Still, at six discs for the price of three, there's more than enough excellent material to justify the outlay, and the performances (many reviewed here individually when originally released) are outstanding. These range from Vänskä's splendid Kullervo Symphony to the exciting cantatas The Captive Queen and Sandels (which share some thematic material with the contemporaneous Second and FirstRead more Symphonies, respectively), two versions of The Origin of Fire, as well as the early choral arrangement of The Lover, which later became a purely orchestral work. You also get all of the orchestral songs beautifully sung by MariAnne Häggander (who turns in a respectable Luonnotar) and Jorma Hynninen, the slight but fetching opera The Maiden in the Tower, plus both the solo and choral versions of the exciting ballad The Rapid Rider's Brides. In short, this set is just the ticket for those who enjoy Sibelius as an orchestral composer but are looking for some major new discoveries.
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