This double CD from EMI features the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra conducted by their Finnish principal conductor at the time (1970s), Paavo Berglund. It doesn't have to be that a conductor originates from the same country as the composer whose works he or she is conducting, but it often happens that this combination seems to produce performances of greatest sensitivity. So it is here, as Berglund conducts 10 works by Finnish composer Jean Sibelius. The discs include quite familiar works like En Saga, one of Sibelius' first compositions when he was in his late 20s. We also have Pohjola's Daughter, The Bard and two of the four Lemminkäinen Legends, and a beautiful version of Luonnotar sung by the Finnish soprano Taru Valjakka. The rest of the discs is made up of less frequently heard pieces. We have the five-movement suite from the incidental music Sibelius wrote for Adolf Paul's play King Christian II (1898); the Spring Song (Vårsång) of 1894; the suite of incidental music from Maeterlinck's Pelleas and Melisande.
These are wonderful performances, full of the flair that made Stern famous. I was glad Sony chose this particular version of the Tchaikovsky with Ormandy and the Philadelphians for his "Life in Music" series, rather than Stern's later version with Berstein and the NYPO. This earlier recording captures Stern with more spontaneity and displays his virtuosity to greater effect. The faster passages of the Tchaikovsky are handled with ease, even at speeds faster than normally heard.
It is coming up to five years since Sarah Chang, then in her early teens, made her brilliant and moving concerto recording debut in the Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto on EMI (12/93). Her concerto recordings for the label since then have been of brilliant showpiece works like the Lalo Symphonie espagnole (5/96) and the Paganini First Concerto (1/95) rather than of the central repertory. It is good here to have her remarkable artistry revealed again at full stretch in astonishingly mature interpretations of the Mendelssohn and Sibelius concertos.
Sibelius' 20th-century masterpiece is unique in its beauty, and is a favorite in concert halls worldwide, with its Scandinavian Romantic themes. A must for the serious violinist! Includes a high-quality printed music score and a compact disc containing a complete version with soloist, in split-channel stereo (soloist on the right channel); then a second version in full stereo of the orchestral accompaniment, minus you, the soloist.
Petteri, Juho and Samuli founded Sibelius Piano Trio a few years ago, and catapulted to success on the European concert stage. When three international soloists of this caliber unite to form a chamber music ensemble, the results are predictably electric. These three friends love playing together, and this love is easy to hear in their concerts and in their recording. Sibelius Piano Trio and Yarlung Records dedicated this album to Finlands 100th Anniversary.