Customer Reviews for

Sibelius: The Symphonies

Average Rating 3.5
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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    The worst Fifth I've heard on record

    Caveats first: I've only heard the Fourth and Fifth from this cycle, and I won't comment on the Fourth because I don't really understand the piece. That said, the Fifth here is frankly awful -- a disservice to one of the towering achievements in all of music. I came away wondering if they rehearsed at all before recording. The SFSO is usually a terrific band, but here the players don't match articulations or note lengths -- listen for example to the different winds in the opening bars, or the "wgwgwg" of the violas at the start of the finale versus the "tktktk" of the violins that follow. Rhythms are glossy and indistinct, and some of Sibelius's accents are totally missing. The result is that Sibelius's incisive gestures become gelatinous and his crystalline textures opaque. Listen to the playing of the Philharmonia with Ashkenazy and there's just no comparison. Blomstedt's tempos are passable mostly, but the Andante mosso is rushed and lacks charm, and the ending of the symphony, which should be both exhilerating and devastating, instead induces a shrug of the shoulders. I think the Ashkenazy is still available as two separate "2fer" issues, with some tone poems thrown in. If you like your Sibelius more sedate, there's Davis & Boston on Philips, also as 2fers. Spend the extra five bucks.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Expansive and cohesive

    The Music Guide reviewer described Blomstedt's interpretations of the vaious symphonies as having "relaxed lyricism," "classical clarity," "cool lucidities," "unperturbed tranquility," "clean lines," and "clear grace." Surprisingly, he uses these descriptors as suggesting they are a bad thing. These adjectives are accurate in describing Blomstedt's Sibelius. First and foremost, San Francisco's performances under him are extremely precise. To add to this, their sound is warm and expansive. As a general rule, Blomstedt seems to avoid pushing the orchestra beyond the point to which it plays cleanly, beautifully, and musically. I fear that other reviewers sometimes mistake sloppiness for passion--and in this case, few listeners will find much passion in Blomstedt. He understands Sibelius intimiately, and delivers it in unadultrated form.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 18, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

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