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Sibelius: Complete Symphonies Box set


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Product Details


Disc: 1
1. Andante, Ma Non Troppo - Allegro Energico
2. Andante (Ma Non Troppo Lento)
3. Scherzo. Allegro
4. Finale (Quasi Una Fantasia). Andante - Allegro Molto
5. Symphony No.7 In C Major, Op.105
See all 6 tracks on this disc
Disc: 2
1. Allegretto
2. Tempo Andante, Ma Rubato
3. Vivacissimo
4. Finale. Allegro Moderato
5. Allegro Molto Moderato
See all 8 tracks on this disc
Disc: 3
1. Allegro Moderato
2. Andantino Con Moto, Quasi Allegretto
3. Moderato-Allegro (Ma Non Tanto)
4. Tempo Molto Moderato-Allegro Moderato (Ma Poco A Poco Stretto)
5. Andante Mosso, Quasi Allegretto
See all 6 tracks on this disc
Disc: 4
1. Tempo Molto Moderato, Quasi Adagio
2. Allegro Molto Vivace
3. Il Tempo Largo
4. Allegro
5. Allegro Moderato
See all 7 tracks on this disc

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Amazon.com: 13 reviews
26 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5 Stars for the Symphonies and Finlandia! June 11 2007
By Brian F Hudon - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
If you have loved the Sibelius Symphonies as I have and have been searching for the one set to buy, this is that set. A Finnish conductor and orchestra make it all the better. The recorded sound is amazingingly clear and deep. The performances are rich, detailed and have a great urgency to them. There is I would say a tension to the performaces and excitement and more warmth than so much of the "icy" Sibelius that is out there on CD. The second is taken at a slower pace than some, but at no expense of structure. The first is my personal favorite in the set. Many conductors I think treat this as an early "romantic" Sibelius work (as though it is not "real" Sibelius) and it often comes off rather Tchaikovsky-ish. Not so here as here it definately sounds like Sibelius. I was also very impressed with the 7th, which despite its short length comes off as having great size and breadth, feeling more like a symphony at the length of a tone poem. My only gripe is the recording of the Sibelius violin concerto, which is simply not worthy of the rest of the set. Fortunately there are many good recordings of that concerto available.

The version of Finlandia in this set features chorus with it and it is sublime. A great bonus with the 7 symphonies.
19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
A Mixed Bag Jan. 22 2010
By M. DeNero - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
There are some things to admire and some to regret with these recordings. The performances are well recorded with rich, detailed sound, but they are too often on the slack side. In addition it seems Segerstam feels the need to go over the top with idiosyncratic phrasing and tempi. The 2nd Symphony for instance. Segerstam has this going in fine form with powerful, expansive sound until he gets to the finale. There, in an attempt to create emphasis and passion, he inserts an odd hesitation preceding each proclamation of the main theme, like a singer taking a dramatic, deep breath before belting out a line. It sounds contrived and adds nothing. That theme can only be described as an anthem and accordingly must be delivered straight-up and unaffected. Then there is the 5th. Here Segerstam gets even further along before derailing. It's a full bodied performance, recorded with transparency, the famous Swan Hymn delivered majestically, but he so exaggerates the accelerando in the closing bars that it detracts from the structure of the entire work. The accelerando is there in the score, and is heard in every performance to different degrees, but not as Segerstam presents it. The first time I listened I was truly taken up in the experience...and then that! "What the...? Aarrgghhh!" It is truly jarring.

The other symphonies are more successful overall. The 3rd has a full bodied, athletic character that is unusual for this work but effective. The 4th is straightforward, appropriately dark and brooding, again with expansive sound. But perhaps a bit tepid. I am not as enthused by the 6th as some seem to be. It's OK, but a bit too broad for my tastes. I prefer a more taut, crystalline reading of this work. The 1st is very powerful and atmospheric, as is the 7th. Still, the 7th lacks the full measure of anguish and tension required in its final pages, so that the transcendent power of the final cadence seems somewhat underwhelming. The Violin Concerto is competent, but hardly memorable. The choral version of Finlandia is only the second I have heard other than Jarvi/Gothenburg on BIS. That recording is murky and suffers from distortion in climaxes so the crystal clear sound and singing of the subject recording is welcome. Overall I would rank Symphonies 3 and 1 as the most successful, followed by 7, 4 and 6. Really, 7, 4 and 6 can be ranked interchangeably. The Violin Concerto is not particularly compelling but there is nothing wrong with it. Symphonies 2 and 5 are disappointing.
17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
A Matter of Taste, but... May 1 2008
By C. Scott Harrison - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Having just digested seven complete sets of Sibelius' symphonies, I too can pick and choose amongst the splendid offerings and find treasures. To my mind and ear, none of the complete sets are "clunkers". In fact, I find all of them to have great merit. I must admit, I do especially love Barbirolli and Collins.. the brashness of Davis(BSO)and Von K.'s suaveness and beauty, especially the 7th. But the Segerstam set really is all around exemplary. Fine performances, chilly yet with passion. Superb, realistic sound and interpretations that, while some might quibble with, are personal and interesting. Great set. Five stars!
35 of 47 people found the following review helpful
As usual, it's mainly a matter of taste. July 5 2006
By Jeffrey Lee - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Segerstam's Sibelius will probably appeal more to those who appreciate a somewhat soft edged, relatively slower paced, more richly textured quality. In other words, if you like tauter, cleaner lines, a more vivid and energetic pace and a cooler interpretive style, then Segerstam may not be your man. There's no doubt he can be quite musically expressive, but the issue is in what way[s] ? One of the chief considerations with Sibelius is atmosphere. Aside from nature's colors playing a vital role, grandeur or an epic quality frequently demands representation. While Segerstam is capable of projecting a swelling sense of intensity when called for, I feel he doesn't reveal enough in the way of that Sibelian attribute of loftiness. However, the Sixth Symphony's recipe calls for a somewhat different set of ingredients. Though there are still aspects of the usual mystery and grandness, more flowing textures and some lighter considerations significantly come into play. Segerstam deals with these things in a most disarming way by bringing warmly expressive detail to what is often referred to as a wintry toned work. I do not rate him as highly however in the other symphonies...In the First, my main criticisms are along aesthetic grounds---his characterization of particular phrases, the prominence given to certain instrumental sections over others and some pauses that are too long...The popular Second Symphony is the kind of piece that runs the risk of being twisted and pulled excessively by some conductors. The worst case I'm familiar with is Thomas Schippers' New York Philharmonic account from the 1960s. Segerstam does not go that far, though I'm still not especially enamoured with his reading. Moreover, he does not entirely avoid some congestion. I also do not respond well to some of his heavier accents. My disappointment with his conception of the Fifth Symphony is based on similar grounds...I rate Segerstam's Third Symphony performance as being next best after his Sixth. It is nicely tuneful, although the final minutes of the last movement would have benefitted from a little more textural clarification...The conductor's perspective on the Seventh Symphony misses a taut, vivid quality. Musical lines could be cleaner. There's not much of that epic presence either...Finally, in the Fourth Symphony, Segerstam is appropriately dark and moody, but there has to be more evidence of life's vital signs. I find his pace too slow and his musical outline a bit spongy. There is another version of the Fourth that I feel stands above all others---Vanska's. Though his Lahti Symphony Orchestra does not enjoy the reputation of other greatly acknowledged ensembles, with Vanska at its helm it paints a compelling portrait of the symphony's mystery and starkness as it explores virtually every nook and cranny of its landscape...As for Finlandia, it begins in fairly routine fashion though near the close there is a nice contribution from the Male Polytech Choir; however, they and Segerstam never really bring the piece to inspired heights...In the Violin Concerto the conductor's mostly plodding pace carries all the way to the end. Though technically fine, violinist Pekka Kuusisto doesn't project much personality. There seems to be little range or depth of feeling in his rendition.

Here are my favorite choices for these pieces, not necessarily in order of preference: Sym.1--Maazel/Vienna Philharmonic, Collins/London Symphony ( All of Collins' Sibelius readings are in mono.) and Stokowski/National Philharmonic; Sym.2--Ormandy/Philadelphia Orchestra (Columbia/Sony) and Collins; Sym.3--Kamu/Helsinki Radio Symphony and Segerstam/Helsinki Philharmonic; Sym.4--Vanska, Maazel/Vienna and Collins; Sym.5--Bernstein/New York Philharmonic, Barbirolli/Halle Orchestra, Collins and Ormandy/Philadelphia Orch.(lp nla); Sym.6--Vanska, Collins, Karajan/Berlin Phiharmonic on EMI and Segerstam/Helsinki Phil.; Sym.7--Maazel/Vienna, Vanska, Collins and Koussevitzky; Finlandia--Ormandy/Philadelphia ( with Mormon Tabernacle Choir ), Collins and Ashkenazy/Philharmonia Orchestra; Violin Concerto--Oistrakh/Ormandy, Heifetz/Hendl and Repin/Krivine. Otherwise, the recorded sound on Segerstam's Ondine set is very fine.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Superb Fourth in a fine but imperfect set Nov. 5 2012
By RJAdams - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
I wanted to love this set as much as I do the recordings of the Sibelius Seven made in the early 90s by Segerstam for the Chandos label. However the earlier set is marginally preferable, mainly because of superior sonic engineering and the greater tonal sheen/sophistication of the Danish National Radio orchestra. The Ondine recording is powerful but the basic sound picture of the Helsinki Philharmonic is narrower, less airy, and not as sumptuous and attractive as the Chandos. For those turned off by Chandos' reverberant house sound, the Segerstam Chandos DNRO reordings are not so afflicted but rendered with wonderful detail.

Segerstam's interpretations are again individualistic and convincing and I can heartily recommend the Ondine set on that basis. The Chandos performances have been criticized for tempos that are sometimes simply too slow. No doubt the Ondine performances are tauter and may serve as a welcome corrective for some listeners. I also compared these Ondine discs to the Rattle EMI set. Rattle's Birmingham Symphony Orchestra also has a more open and airy sound picture than the Helsinki Phil, and Rattle's interpretations hold up well. Segerstam seems to respond more to the elements of epic poetry, Rattle to the lyric. Both (Rattle more than Segerstam) Brucknerize dramatic pauses and other elements of contrast such as when Sibelius simultaneously soars with the treble and descends with the bass lines or holding a phrase bit longer. This sometimes heightens the drama but also can disrupt flow. Ondine production values are superior to EMI. Some of the EMI discs do not always track well on my aging Denon CD player.

Bottom line: if you can get it, Segerstam Chandos over Segerstam Ondine and the Rattle EMI. Favorite individual recordings? The Colin Davis Boston recordings on Philips are still wonderful, especially One and Five. For Sibelius Two, it's still Ormandy Philadelphia or Szell Concertgebouw, and I personally like the wayward Bernstein Sony. Three: either Segerstam, slower than others but also powerful in the outer movements and tender in the central romance. Four: here I prefer Segerstam Helsinki, robust, fearless, virile. Five: Do get the Vanska BIS first version of this symphony as a supplement to the Bernstein Sony. Six: Segerstam Chandos is poignant and ethereal and Vanska/BIS is almost as good. Seven has many excellent renditions, and for me it's a toss-up between Ormandy RCA 1975, Mravinsky Melodiya 1965, and both Segerstams. Rattle is strongest in One and Five, weakest in Two, but very good overall. Caveat: I do not care for von Karajan, but critical opinion has held his performances of 4 to 7 in esteem, particularly Six. I have not yet heard the Blomstedt Decca set with the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra, but both sound and performance are reported to be excellent in a budget-priced release.


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