WGBH Radio WGBH Radio theclassicalstation.org

Sibelius: Complete Symphonies, Orchestral Works / Barbirolli, Halle

Sibelius / Halle Orchestra / Barbirolli
Release Date: 01/14/2014 
Label:  Warner Classics   Catalog #: 8470624   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Jean Sibelius
Conductor:  Sir John Barbirolli
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Hallé Orchestra
Number of Discs: 5 
Recorded in: Stereo 
In Stock: Usually ships in 24 hours.  

Notes and Editorial Reviews

Sir John Barbirolli’s electrifying interpretations of the works of Jean Sibelius have inspired audiences all over the world. In a letter to Barbirolli, Sibelius declared himself to be a ‘devoted admirer’ of the conductor, adding that he was always happy to know that his compositions were in Barbirolli’s ‘masterful hands’. This collection features, among other works, the complete symphonies – including Barbirolli’s speciality, No.2 – the incidental music of Pelléas et Mélisande and that great symphonic poem, Finlandia.

Reviews of some of the recordings in this set:

Symphony No. 1
The First Symphony is given a stunner of a performance. It is taken at a fair old lick with the
Read more icy dazzle of the strings not in the least compromised. It is all very pliably and lovingly done without being at all languid. The Valse Triste steadiness of the second movement is notable - quite slow and with a shiver that chills to the bone. The Scherzo is tensely chiselled - throbbing sharply. The finale is on reins held commandingly in a Mravinsky-like grip - a tungsten-tempered hawser stretched to whip-tight breaking point. This is an electrifying interpretation. Barbirolli knows so well how to pace the emotion - pressing onwards then holding back in classic Tchaikovskian technique. An undoubted highlight of the set.

– Rob Barnett, MusicWeb International

Symphony No. 6
The Sixth Symphony has none of the spotlit grand heroics of the Fifth. It is a work of serenity agreeably dominated by the strings and with melodic material suggestive of the Third Symphony. It is not a work of extremes: subtle but amply accessible although in a different way from the out and out romanticism of symphonies 1 and 2. The Barbirolli approach in this case is classically poised with plenty of passion of the smoothest hallmark. Listen to the furious attack of the strings at the start of the final Allegro Molto! I have heard more driven performances but this time Barbirolli hits what is, for me, the exact right note.

– Rob Barnett, MusicWeb International

Suite from Pelléas et Mélisande
Sibelius's music creates in a few pages an atmosphere of doomed love. That, at any rate, is how John Barbirolli conducts the work in his performance of the suite recorded in 1967 with the Halle Orchestra. From the opening immense string sonorities of "At the Castle Gate," to the exquisitely tender English-horn-and-cello duet of "Mélisande," to the rushing strings and furtive woodwinds of "Mélisande at the Spinning Wheel," to the mournful "Death of Mélisande," Sibelius's suite drawn from the incidental music becomes in Barbirolli's hands a little symphony on the theme of loving not wisely but too well.

– James Leonard, All Music Guide

Read less

Works on This Recording

1. Finlandia, Op. 26 by Jean Sibelius
Conductor:  Sir John Barbirolli
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Hallé Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: Finland 
2. Karelia Suite, Op. 11 by Jean Sibelius
Conductor:  Sir John Barbirolli
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Hallé Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1893; Finland 
3. Pohjola's daughter, Op. 49 by Jean Sibelius
Conductor:  Sir John Barbirolli
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Hallé Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1906; Finland 
4. Kuolema: Valse triste, Op. 44 no 1 by Jean Sibelius
Conductor:  Sir John Barbirolli
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Hallé Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1903-1904; Finland 
5. Lemminkäinen Suite, Op. 22: no 4, Lemminkäinens return by Jean Sibelius
Conductor:  Sir John Barbirolli
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Hallé Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1895-1897; Finland 
6. Pelléas et Mélisande, Op. 46: no 1, At the castle gate by Jean Sibelius
Conductor:  Sir John Barbirolli
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Hallé Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1905; Finland 
7. Scènes historiques no 1, Op. 25: no 1, All' overtura by Jean Sibelius
Conductor:  Sir John Barbirolli
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Hallé Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1899; Finland 
8. Scènes historiques no 2, Op. 66: no 1, The Hunt by Jean Sibelius
Conductor:  Sir John Barbirolli
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Hallé Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1912; Finland 
9. Symphony no 1 in E minor, Op. 39 by Jean Sibelius
Conductor:  Sir John Barbirolli
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Hallé Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1899; Finland 
10. Symphony no 2 in D major, Op. 43 by Jean Sibelius
Conductor:  Sir John Barbirolli
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Hallé Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1901-1902; Finland 
11. Symphony no 3 in C major, Op. 52 by Jean Sibelius
Conductor:  Sir John Barbirolli
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Hallé Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1907; Finland 
12. Symphony no 4 in A minor, Op. 63 by Jean Sibelius
Conductor:  Sir John Barbirolli
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Hallé Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1911; Finland 
13. Symphony no 5 in E flat major, Op. 82 by Jean Sibelius
Conductor:  Sir John Barbirolli
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Hallé Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1915/1919; Finland 
14. Symphony no 6 in D minor, Op. 104 by Jean Sibelius
Conductor:  Sir John Barbirolli
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Hallé Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1923; Finland 
15. Symphony no 7 in C major, Op. 105 by Jean Sibelius
Conductor:  Sir John Barbirolli
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Hallé Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1924; Finland 
16. Reed, reed, rustle, JS 42 by Jean Sibelius
Conductor:  Sir John Barbirolli
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Hallé Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: Finland 
17. Scènes historiques no 1, Op. 25: no 2, Scena by Jean Sibelius
Conductor:  Sir John Barbirolli
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Hallé Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1899; Finland 
18. Pelléas et Mélisande, Op. 46: no 2, Mélisande by Jean Sibelius
Conductor:  Sir John Barbirolli
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Hallé Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1905; Finland 
19. Pelléas et Mélisande, Op. 46: no 7, At the spinning wheel by Jean Sibelius
Conductor:  Sir John Barbirolli
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Hallé Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1905; Finland 
20. Pelléas et Mélisande, Op. 46: no 9, Death of Mélisande by Jean Sibelius
Conductor:  Sir John Barbirolli
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Hallé Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1905; Finland 
21. Lemminkäinen Suite, Op. 22: no 3, Swan of Tuonela by Jean Sibelius
Conductor:  Sir John Barbirolli
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Hallé Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1893-1897; Finland 
22. Rakastava, Op. 14: Suite for String Orchestra, Triangle and Timpani by Jean Sibelius
Conductor:  Sir John Barbirolli
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Hallé Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1911-1912; Finland 

Customer Reviews

Average Customer Review:  2 Customer Reviews )
 Sentimental Sibelius February 26, 2014 By V. Guernon (South Kingstown, RI) See All My Reviews "Sir John Barbirolli was always a heart-on-sleeve conductor, and he is no different in this set of Sibelius symphonies. For my taste, he is a bit overly romantic and sentimental in this music. This is Sibelius as it was usually played fifty or sixty years ago. As is usual with this conductor, the performances are strongly heartfelt, and, in their own way, very enjoyable. Barbirolli was a longtime champion of this composer. The recordings are from the 1960's and the sound is still very good. The Halle Orchestra, though not the most refined of orchestras, plays very enthusiastically and mostly very well. This is a good alternative set, but not the one I would take to a desert island." Report Abuse
 Great performances, superb remastering. February 18, 2014 By C. Rubino (Utica, NY) See All My Reviews "Uniformly great performances, superlative remastering. Sibelius himself acknowledged Barbirolli as a master conductor of his work, and his judgement is certainly confirmed here. A great set, and an extraordinary bargain!" Report Abuse
Review This Title
Review This Title Share on Facebook