Karajan: Sibelius, 1976-1981

Karajan: Sibelius, 1976-1981

by Herbert von Karajan


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Karajan: Sibelius, 1976-1981

Longtime collectors of Herbert von Karajan's EMI recordings with the Berlin Philharmonic may already own many of these Sibelius performances on LP or CD, though budget-conscious newcomers should be aware of a few problems in this reissue in Warner Classics' official remastered edition. First, and most importantly, this is not a complete cycle of Sibelius' symphonies, since Karajan never recorded the "Third," and the "Seventh" was recorded for Deutsche Grammophon in 1967, falling outside the period covered by this set (1976-1981). For a complete set of the symphonies (though without the tone poems that are included here), the DG triple CD reissue with recordings by Karajan and Okko Kamu is a better substitute. Second, the reproduction of this compilation is uneven, with the best all-digital sound presented on the first disc (Symphonies "No. 1" & "No. 6"), and the weakest remastering of the analog masters on the third CD (Symphonies "No. 4" & "No. 5"), which offers fairly thin textures at soft dynamics and harsh sonorities at climaxes. Third, Karajan's reputation for interpreting Sibelius -- based in part on a generous endorsement from the aging composer in the 1950s, and also on the conductor's critically praised recordings in the 1960s -- is highest among his loyal fans, but it is not universal. The nearly contemporary recordings by Colin Davis and the Boston Symphony Orchestra on Decca are bona-fide classics, and the superb SACD cycle by Osmo Vänskä and the Lahti Symphony Orchestra on BIS is another set worth trying.

Product Details

Release Date: 05/27/2014
Label: Warner Classics
UPC: 0825646336197
catalogNumber: 633619


  1. Tapiola, tone poem for orchestra, Op. 112
  2. Valse triste, for orchestra (from Kuolema), Op. 44/1
  3. Finlandia, tone poem for orchestra, Op. 26
  4. Karelia Suite, for orchestra, Op. 11
  5. The Swan of Tuonela, tone poem for orchestra (Lemminkäinen Suite No. 3), Op. 22/3
  6. En Saga, tone poem for orchestra, Op. 9
  7. Symphony No. 5 in E flat major, Op. 82
  8. Symphony No. 4 in A minor, Op. 63
  9. Symphony No. 2 in D major, Op. 43
  10. Symphony No. 6 in D minor, Op. 104
  11. Symphony No. 1 in E minor, Op. 39

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