Finlandia, The Swan of Tuonela, Spring Song, Alla Marcia from 'Karelia Suite',
The Countess's Portrait, Suite for Violin and String Orchestra, Valse Triste,
Tapiola, Excerpts from: 'Pelleas and Melisande' and 'The Tempest'.
Lahti Symphony Orchestra Osmo
BIS CD 1125 79m DDD.
This new BIS compilation is like a 'greatest hits' collection of Vanska's
generally splendid Sibelius recordings from 1992 to the present day. The
party items are winningly done with 'Finlandia' and the 'Alla marcia'
particularly arresting and sounding quite superb especially the strings.
"Spring Song' is a characterful piece, with some splendid work for woodwind
as is the charismatic Suite for Violin and Orchestra with Dong Suk Kang an
effortlessly vivid soloist. Short excerpts from the major incidental music
to 'The Tempest' and 'Pelleas' are astutely chosen whilst the burgeoning
symphonic canvas that is 'Tapiola' receives a splendid interpretation well
recorded. Charming items like the well-known 'Valse triste' and 'The Countess's
Portrait' make welcome additions to the standard fare. You won't be buying
this disc if you've already collected the complete versions of Vanska's brilliant
Sibelius cycle but newcomers to his music or other collectors should snap
up this disc for some highly charged music-making.
But John Phillips adds
This is a strange disc, and it causes me a problem in reviewing it.
We have here a superb series of recordings, all lifted from Vanska's very
successful Sibelius series. The playing is alive, highly accurate and more
than that, really inside the composer's idiom. Indeed nothing on the disc
could be faulted, with BIS's very high quality digital recordings placing
the orchestra in a highly believable acoustic with superb range and depth.
So far, so good.
My quandary is this: Who is going to buy this record? Those collectors who
have been responding to and buying this conductor's series will already own
most or all of these works and so they will be unlikely to purchase.
The other sector of the market place, the browser, is more likely to choose
"safer" or more famous conductors or orchestras playing these works, and
therefore would possibly avoid it.
I can only hope that there are enough collectors about who have bought only
one or two of the series, and find this compilation suits them in terms of
the items which they do not have.
I sincerely hope that I am wrong in my analysis - BIS has provided the disc
with a highly attractive sleeve so maybe this will entice the non specialist
to this issue. I certainly hope so as I have not heard a Sibelius compilation
as interesting and as well played as this for a long time, and it deserves