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Sibelius: Complete Symphonies, Tone Poems / Sanderling, Sinaisky

Sibelius / Berliner Sinfonie-orchester
Release Date: 08/27/2013 
Label:  Brilliant Classics   Catalog #: 9439   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Jean Sibelius
Performer:  Maria Jogeva
Conductor:  Kurt SanderlingVassili Sinaisky
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Symphony OrchestraMoscow Philharmonic Orchestra
Number of Discs: 7 
Recorded in: Stereo 
In Stock: Usually ships in 24 hours.  

Notes and Editorial Reviews

This set seems to have had little or no attention in record review magazines. I recall seeing a passing (and, I think, approving) reference to it in a Gramophone overview of Sibelius cycles. Apart from that nothing - rather like the Abravanel and Watanabe cycles. Perhaps this goes in Sanderling's case with the recordings having been a product of East Germany in the days before Unification. It would have been so easy for this valuable quartet of discs to be allowed to slip away but thanks are due to EDEL for keeping it in the public eye.

Sanderling's Nordic credentials are certainly in order. He was born in 1912 and trained in Berlin. He emigrated to Russia in 1936 conducting in turn the Moscow Radio Orchestra and then the
Read more Kharkov PO until in 1942 he was appointed as joint permanent conductor of the Leningrad PO with Mravinsky. Sanderling left Leningrad in 1960 for a long association with the Berlin SO (which only ended in 1977) and the Dresden Staatskapelle.

Sanderling's Sibelius cycle is distinguished by an attention to point and detail. The second symphony feels lovingly moulded and crafted with notable control of the pizzicato (I 2.21) and finely lathed tension in the second movement. There is a slight hint of vintage Russian vibrato in the French horns - a ripeness that suits very well in this repertoire. In the finale the heaven-vaunting trumpets have a very human self-questioning edge. These fine features carry over into the final pages but with a suggestion of languor that falls over the edge into tiredness.

The Third (1904-07) makes the transition from the Tchaikovskian romance of the first two symphonies. A chill flame lights up the third and the sixth symphonies (my favourites among the cycle). Sanderling is warmly in sympathy with these works catching the long march and trudge of the first movement (Leningrad's snow still on Sanderling's boots?) with a sharply accented and chiselled approach. So a cold flame but it is still a flame. I noted a small tape 'bump' at 1:27 in the first movement - a very small blemish in this context.

The first symphony resounds with mordant string surges, Nutcracker-like enchantment, some stunning brass playing and the easily unrolling chiff-chaff of the strings and woodwind (e.g. 10.50 I). The pizzicato are punched out with the agreeable impact at the end of the first movement. The hushed fast waves of sound underpinning the horns are done to perfection in the second movement (3.30). In the third movement Sanderling demonstrates that he knows how to knot and twist the tension (1.36). The finale is rather too clipped and petulantly light-weight to be completely successful. More's the pity as this is a performance that otherwise compares well with the 'market-leaders' including Colin Davis.

En Saga's etched string wavelets at the start are extremely well done and the mesmeric string ostinati superbly look forward to Night Ride and Sunrise. Sanderling's account of the latter is extremely successful: buzzing with blade-sharp definition and with an impressive depth of recording. Sanderling stands here as the conjurer of clouds and enchanter of winds. In Finlandia bombast is conquered with some savagely barking brass and at 3.35 the horns are simply magnificent.

The Sixth Symphony has a coolly unfolding flute contribution and cocooned strings (I), the motoric propulsion of the strings utterly banishing any languor. In the finale Sanderling and Sibelius conjure great reserves of detail and at the same time catch the spirit of remote village churches and crudely fervent hymn-singing. The second movement, more than ever in this recording, seems to have much in common with the incidental music.

The Seventh Symphony is the least successful of the set. In it Sanderling's propensity for caressing detail undermines the tension. All in all, and in total contrast to his Leningrad partner (Mravinsky) in this work, there is little sense of steely or adamantine control.

The fourth symphony is projected with throatily clipped style. The recording is natural - decidedly unglamorous. It is taken rather steadily but this seems to work well. This is not the equal of Colin Davis's Boston set (Philips) but it is an estimable recording which will consistently please. Many corners and crests emerge with satisfying eminence and clarity. The finale is very good indeed with the studied faltering of the cello and violin solo statements striding out. There is also, about the work, a gruff volcanic romance quite unlike the Karajan DG performance through which I grew to know this symphony. Sanderling and his orchestra are excellent at these rock-steady ostinati and this foundation pays off time and again.

The fifth symphony is, for Sanderling, typically natural in approach and sound. 'New' details float out and upwards all the time, for example the bassoon solo in I at 7.09. This is very special indeed. Sanderling is in touch with the hymn-like aspects of the second movement and the wintry serenade work of the woodwind is allowed to register clearly. The strings seem to emphasise the affinity of the writing with Tchaikovsky's String Serenade. Tension darts, hums, bubbles and streams (try 4.34 if you would like to sample the ethereal and the tense hand-in-hand) through the finale. The epic horn cradle-song, so well articulated, makes this an extremely satisfying performance.

The trilingual (German, English, French) notes give us the essentials.

The stereo competition is fierce. The emerging Naxos Petri Sakari set looks to be very promising and I have a very high regard for Berglund's Royal Classics set with the Bournemouth SO. The latter happens to be from the same vintage as the Sanderling. In fairness the Berlin Classics set would not have been my very first choice but I would feel privileged to have learnt and enjoyed the symphonies through them. If you can tolerate mono then the Beulah Collins set is well worth your attention. I would refer readers to Gerald Fenech's overview of the Sibelius symphonies for a broader view.

How to characterise this set? Sanderling glories in detail. He can tend towards a steadiness that occasionally decays the pulse and thrust of the music. Often however his unglamorous approach brings out details that others gloss and chamfer. He is not afraid to allow these Northern flowers and trees to bloom at a natural pace. He is no stranger to drama but will not fabricate it unnaturally. Tension is exposed rather than created. This set is in many ways a most agreeable library staple and conductor, orchestra and recording all lend themselves to long-term listening rather than immediate emotional returns and short-term neon high-drama.

– Rob Barnett, MusicWeb International Read less

Works on This Recording

1.
Symphony no 1 in E minor, Op. 39 by Jean Sibelius
Conductor:  Kurt Sanderling
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1899; Finland 
Date of Recording: 01/1976 
Venue:  Studio Christuskirche, Berlin 
Length: 39 Minutes 31 Secs. 
2.
Symphony no 2 in D major, Op. 43 by Jean Sibelius
Conductor:  Kurt Sanderling
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1901-1902; Finland 
Date of Recording: 09/1974 
Venue:  Studio Christuskirche, Berlin 
Length: 45 Minutes 34 Secs. 
3.
Symphony no 3 in C major, Op. 52 by Jean Sibelius
Conductor:  Kurt Sanderling
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1907; Finland 
Date of Recording: 11/1970 
Venue:  Studio Christuskirche, Berlin 
Length: 27 Minutes 27 Secs. 
4.
Symphony no 4 in A minor, Op. 63 by Jean Sibelius
Conductor:  Kurt Sanderling
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1911; Finland 
Date of Recording: 05/1977 
Venue:  Studio Christuskirche, Berlin 
Length: 36 Minutes 14 Secs. 
5.
Symphony no 5 in E flat major, Op. 82 by Jean Sibelius
Conductor:  Kurt Sanderling
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1915/1919; Finland 
Date of Recording: 12/1971 
Venue:  Studio Christuskirche, Berlin 
Length: 32 Minutes 38 Secs. 
6.
Symphony no 6 in D minor, Op. 104 by Jean Sibelius
Conductor:  Kurt Sanderling
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1923; Finland 
Date of Recording: 01/1974 
Venue:  Studio Christuskirche, Berlin 
Length: 29 Minutes 35 Secs. 
7.
Symphony no 7 in C major, Op. 105 by Jean Sibelius
Conductor:  Kurt Sanderling
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1924; Finland 
Date of Recording: 01/1974 
Venue:  Studio Christuskirche, Berlin 
Length: 23 Minutes 49 Secs. 
8.
En saga, Op. 9 by Jean Sibelius
Conductor:  Kurt Sanderling
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1892/1902; Finland 
Date of Recording: 11/1970 
Venue:  Studio Christuskirche, Berlin 
Length: 19 Minutes 54 Secs. 
9.
Finlandia, Op. 26 by Jean Sibelius
Conductor:  Kurt Sanderling
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: Finland 
Date of Recording: 12/1971 
Venue:  Studio Christuskirche, Berlin 
Length: 8 Minutes 16 Secs. 
10.
Nightride and sunrise, Op. 55 by Jean Sibelius
Conductor:  Kurt Sanderling
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1907; Finland 
Date of Recording: 05/1977 
Venue:  Studio Christuskirche, Berlin 
Length: 16 Minutes 8 Secs. 
11.
Lemminkäinen Suite, Op. 22 by Jean Sibelius
Conductor:  Vassili Sinaisky
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1893/1895; Finland 
Date of Recording: 1991 
12.
Finlandia, Op. 26 by Jean Sibelius
Conductor:  Vassili Sinaisky
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: Finland 
Date of Recording: 1991 
13.
En saga, Op. 9 by Jean Sibelius
Conductor:  Vassili Sinaisky
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1892/1902; Finland 
Date of Recording: 1991 
14.
Luonnotar, Op. 70 by Jean Sibelius
Performer:  Maria Jogeva (Soprano)
Conductor:  Vassili Sinaisky
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: ?1910; Finland 
Date of Recording: 1991 
15.
Oceanides, Op. 73 by Jean Sibelius
Conductor:  Vassili Sinaisky
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1914; Finland 
Date of Recording: 1991 
16.
Pohjola's daughter, Op. 49 by Jean Sibelius
Conductor:  Vassili Sinaisky
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1906; Finland 
Date of Recording: 1991 
17.
Dryad, Op. 45 no 1 by Jean Sibelius
Conductor:  Vassili Sinaisky
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1910; Finland 
Date of Recording: 1991 
18.
Spring Song, Op. 16 by Jean Sibelius
Conductor:  Vassili Sinaisky
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: Finland 
Date of Recording: 1991 
19.
Tapiola, Op. 112 by Jean Sibelius
Conductor:  Vassili Sinaisky
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1926; Finland 
20.
The Bard, Op. 64 by Jean Sibelius
Conductor:  Vassili Sinaisky
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1913/1914; Finland 
Date of Recording: 1991 
21.
Nightride and sunrise, Op. 55 by Jean Sibelius
Conductor:  Vassili Sinaisky
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1907; Finland 
Date of Recording: 1991 

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