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Sibelius: Symphony No 2; Karelia Suite

Sibelius / Monteux / Maazel
Release Date: 11/20/2012 
Label:  Eloquence   Catalog #: 4806568   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Jean Sibelius
Conductor:  Lorin MaazelPierre Monteux
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Philharmonic OrchestraLondon Symphony Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

SIBELIUS Symphony No. 2 1. Karelia Suite 1 Pierre Monteux, cond; Lorin Maazel, cond; 1 London SO; Vienna PO DECCA ELOQUENCE 480 6568 (58:29)

Pierre Monteux’s 1958 recording of Sibelius’s Second is his only studio recording of that composer’s work, but it is a thoroughly idiomatic, satisfying account. It was last issued in 2006 in a Decca “Original Masters” set Read more devoted to the conductor, but I see that, appallingly, that set is now out of print, so it’s good to have it back on this Eloquence reissue. Unfairly typecast as a conductor of French and Russian music, Monteux brings the same qualities to Sibelius’s Symphony as he does to Beethoven and Brahms in recordings of the same period: a dynamism that belies his age; an attention to detail; and a judicious choice of tempos. His first movement is large-scaled and broad, but always maintains a sense of motion. The second movement is flexible, with powerful climaxes, but never bogs down. There is no wallowing in the finale; the climactic ending seems to come as a natural consequence of the preceding music. The sound of this recording is clear and full, although the violins have a touch of glare that I don’t remember from the original RCA Victor LP.

Maazel’s Karelia Suite was the filler for the First Symphony in his Vienna Philharmonic Sibelius cycle; it was omitted from the CD reissue (still available), which fitted all seven symphonies on three discs but sacrificed the fillers. It’s one of the best versions on disc, with a spirited Intermezzo, a Ballade that never drags, unlike many readings, and a snappy Alla marcia with crisp trumpet playing in the second tune. The sound is splendid. Note: Eloquence could have fitted Tapiola , the other filler in Maazel’s set, on this CD as well; that recording, good but not great, is available on an Arkiv CD issue of a Decca “Legendary Performances” CD including the Fourth and Seventh Symphonies.

This is an attractive coupling of two outstanding performances, strongly recommended if you’ve never owned Monteux’s recording of the Second Symphony or if you’ve waited this long to replace your LP. The Karelia Suite is an attractive bonus. At Eloquence’s price it’s nigh irresistible.

FANFARE: Richard A. Kaplan
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Works on This Recording

Karelia Suite, Op. 11 by Jean Sibelius
Conductor:  Lorin Maazel
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1893; Finland 
Symphony no 2 in D major, Op. 43 by Jean Sibelius
Conductor:  Pierre Monteux
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1901-1902; Finland 

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