Two friends from the 1990s re-emerge arm-in-arm. They’re musically and technically outstanding companions.
Mackerras’s often urgently-charged Sibelius 2 with the RPO is a rung down from the full-on pyrotechnics of Barbirolli (RPO on Chesky; not the EMI or Dutton alternative recordings) or the eruptive quality of the uproariously live Beecham (BBC Legends) or the regal and imaginative reach of the under-rated Ormandy (Sony). Even so this is music-making that ripples with vitality and tenderness. This can be heard throughout but notably in the tensely confided second movement. The
Vivacissimo and Finale movements are most craftily balanced so as to save the full blast for the surging climacticRead more paragraphs. An urgently adroit performance from the RPO with a good sense of theatrical narrative is coupled with an outstanding partnership of music-making and audio technology. The captivating way that figuration, often subsumed elsewhere, emerges is one of the less obvious but still rewarding pleasures of this recording; try the gently registered note-cells at 2:50 in the finale.
Ole Schmidt in Sibelius 5 draws something monumental and indomitable from the RPO. This does not mean slow. As for the sound it is once again splendid. It is as if a pane of matte frosted glass has been removed and we are in the orchestra's immediate presence. The brass has real bite. The stereo spread is ample and details both subtle and stark emerge with freshness. The finale's hurried tension at 3.44 is superbly put across and so is the pizzicato at 4:13. Those six final asynchronous hammer-blows are staggeringly effective.
The Schmidt was last issued on Regis as part of an all-Schmidt collection. I had initially thought that this 1994 Mackerras was the same Second issued on a previous Regis but when I checked that was a 1988 recording with the LSO. The Mackerras was first issued on Tring DRP013 and the Schmidt on Tring DRP103 each as part of the Royal Philharmonic Collection.
The typically readable notes are by the redoubtable James Murray who is a regular with Alto and who contributes invaluably to their many attractive releases.
-- Rob Barnett, MusicWeb International
Eminently recommendable account of Sibelius’s Second… Good, well-chosen tempos and no want of tenderness at the Andante sostenuto theme... Mackerras holds the structure together.
Ole Schmidt’s excellent Nielsen symphonies cycle long made me want to hear more of him on disc.
Symphony no 5 in E flat major, Op. 82by Jean Sibelius
Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic Written: 1915/1919; Finland
Symphony no 2 in D major, Op. 43by Jean Sibelius
Sir Charles Mackerras
Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic Written: 1901-1902; Finland
Average Customer Review: ( 1 Customer Review )
A fine recording.March 3, 2014By Jeremy M. (Victoria, BC)See All My Reviews"Here we have a good example of how two different conductors can effect your listening pleasure. This is very good Sibelius, but I found that Mackerras' performance was a better interpretation of the 2nd symphony than Schmidt's was of the 5th. I have no problem at all with people buying several recordings of the same piece with different conductors, I do the same thing myself and it gives you a wonderful understanding of the fact that since these composers died, it is entirely up to the conductor how he or she interprets the piece. This is a fine recording with the fine nuances of Mackerras showing through, especially in the Andante 2nd movement. I found Schmidt's interpretation almost as good, but he tended to be a little harsh/hard especially in the 3rd movement, the Allegro; but then this is composed by a northerner from Finland!"Report Abuse