Many years ago the "PENGUIN GUIDE TO CLASSICAL MUSIC" wrote the the BIS label was going to produce the early version of Sibelius' 5th Symphony. I was always a great admirerer of this symphony. The first time I heard it was on WQXR FM in New York City. I was just a teenager and when I heard it, I said to myself, "This guy really has a different sound world, quite different from Beethoven, Mozart, Haydn and all the other Teutonic Composers. I want to learn more about him".
I couldn't get enough of this symphony. Then, when I found out there were other versions, I wanted to hear them as well. So I waited for this new recording of the older version from BIS, but it never came around.
So I faxed the offices of BIS (this was before the whole big Internet Explosion) and asked what's up with tne recording of the earlier version. They got back to me, said they really enjoyed my fax, but the heirs to Sibelius did not want the original score to be recorded because Jean did not want it to be heard.
Well, BIS must have persuaded them and they finally made the recording. I bought it as soon as it hit the classical music shelves. But I have to say that Sibelius was right. The third version is the most perfect version of the score. The first sounds like snippets of this final creation: thematic pieces here and there but not really working together. It reminded me of a soundtrack of a movie. Sometimes the thematic music or motifs only work if you see the action on the screen. That is what happens in this version. It is great music, but it doesn't fit all together.
But......if you a lover of Sibelius' music, as I am, it is a good study. It is interesting to see the development or evolution (or Creative Design) of a work that will become monumental. This is why I give it 5 stars.