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Sibelius: Complete Symphonies / Abravanel, Utah Symphony

Sibelius / Utah Symphony / Abravanel
Release Date: 10/11/2011 
Label:  Musical Concepts   Catalog #: 132   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Jean Sibelius
Conductor:  Maurice Abravanel
Number of Discs: 3 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 3 Hours 43 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

Maurice Abravanel (1903-1993) was conductor of the Utah SO from 1947 to 1979. In that time he took it from state status to national and international recognition. His work with Vanguard took the name of the orchestra across the world. There is a Mahler cycle, a sequence of Brahms symphonies, and the present cycle - all among so much else.

Alert, brisk, spirited, pointed and sensitive. These epithets best describe Abravanel's Sibelius cycle in most respects.

The First Symphony is good with a rock-steady beat in evidence in the second movement alongside some glorious woodwind and a beautifully calculated passage for solo cello. The rapid beat of the third movement is well carried off - listen to the harps deep in
Read more the bass of the third movement at 0.40. Abravanel is all inky nocturnal melodrama in the finale.

The Second Symphony is a concert warhorse. Rather like No. 1 it may occasionally be as far as some listeners may go in exploring the Sibelius symphonies as it links most perfectly with mature Tchaikovsky from which many exploring souls will have come. Abravanel is quite broad and this compromises, to a degree, what would otherwise be a very decently emoted performance.

Abravanel and the Utah players undoubtedly hit just the right note in Numbers 3, 5, and 6. He is wakeful, open to the sudden sway and lilt of the music and applies pointed accenting. All these are strong performances.

Abravanel's No. 7 is quite broad, though as expected the woodwind detailing is superb. This must nevertheless be regarded as one of the less strong points of the cycle.

The enigmatic fourth is emphatic on mystery but, in the first three movements, over-eggs the opiate of contemplation. In the finale vigour is reasserted although at some moments this is still not as driven as it might be.

There may be a tendency by some to write off the Utah orchestra as a backwoods ensemble. This is a major error. They are nothing of the sort.

The technical aspects were handled by a famous team: Marc Aubert and Joanna Nickrenz. The wind instruments are lent special weight, and this is particularly so in the case of the woodwind. As Sibelius's woodwind writing is always engaging this makes listening to the Abravanel cycle a very pleasing experience.

A bargain price box which will please seasoned Sibelians and delight newcomers.

– MusicWeb International (Rob Barnett) Read less

Works on This Recording

1.
Symphony no 1 in E minor, Op. 39 by Jean Sibelius
Conductor:  Maurice Abravanel
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1899; Finland 
Date of Recording: 05/1977 
Venue:  Mormon Tabernacle, Salt Lake City, Utah 
Length: 36 Minutes 15 Secs. 
2.
Symphony no 4 in A minor, Op. 63 by Jean Sibelius
Conductor:  Maurice Abravanel
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1911; Finland 
Date of Recording: 05/1977 
Venue:  Mormon Tabernacle, Salt Lake City, Utah 
Length: 34 Minutes 32 Secs. 
3.
Symphony no 2 in D major, Op. 43 by Jean Sibelius
Conductor:  Maurice Abravanel
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1901-1902; Finland 
Date of Recording: 05/1977 
Venue:  Mormon Tabernacle, Salt Lake City, Utah 
Length: 43 Minutes 13 Secs. 
4.
Symphony no 3 in C major, Op. 52 by Jean Sibelius
Conductor:  Maurice Abravanel
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1907; Finland 
Date of Recording: 05/1977 
Venue:  Mormon Tabernacle, Salt Lake City, Utah 
Length: 29 Minutes 21 Secs. 
5.
Symphony no 5 in E flat major, Op. 82 by Jean Sibelius
Conductor:  Maurice Abravanel
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1915/1919; Finland 
Date of Recording: 05/1977 
Venue:  Mormon Tabernacle, Salt Lake City, Utah 
Length: 29 Minutes 26 Secs. 
6.
Symphony no 6 in D minor, Op. 104 by Jean Sibelius
Conductor:  Maurice Abravanel
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1923; Finland 
Date of Recording: 05/1977 
Venue:  Mormon Tabernacle, Salt Lake City, Utah 
Length: 27 Minutes 33 Secs. 
7.
Symphony no 7 in C major, Op. 105 by Jean Sibelius
Conductor:  Maurice Abravanel
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1924; Finland 
Date of Recording: 05/1977 
Venue:  Mormon Tabernacle, Salt Lake City, Utah 
Length: 21 Minutes 16 Secs. 

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