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Jean SIBELIUS (1865-1957)
Symphony No. 3 in C Major op. 52 (1907) [27:41]
Symphony No. 6 in D Minor op. 104 (1923) [25:42]
Igor STRAVINSKY (1882-1971)
Violin Concerto in D major (1931) [20:40]
Northern Sinfonia/Thomas Zehetmair (violin/director)
rec. 19-22 April 2007 (Stravinsky); 4-5 August 2007 (6); 20-21 September, 13 November, 2008, Hall One, The Sage, Gateshead. DDD
AVIE AV2150 [74:22]

Experience Classicsonline


A trend or a series of one-offs? Labels I associate with particular genres are striking out in unaccustomed directions. Look at Signum and their orchestral forays. Now Avie turn to early 20th century orchestral material. Not that they are strangers to orchestral music as their other Northern Sinfonia/Zehetmair (Schumann 4, Brahms Violin Concerto AV2125) collaboration attests.  Stravinsky's terse anti-romantic and spartan Violin Concerto and Sibelius's two least performed symphonies are now offered on one disc. Starting with Sibelius 3 we soon discover that Zehetmair favours brisk tempi and matches this with an unsentimental interpretative eye. Aided by Avie's Simon Fox-Gál we are treated to a broad and bold dynamic range. This is striking in a barely audible pianissimo. It delivers a wholly delightful and intimate audio embrace. This pleasingly enhances the woodwind who play such a central part in this work as much as the massed strings are central the Sixth. To sample the pleasures of subtlety and pianissimo try the dialogue between strings and solo woodwind about three minutes into the first movement. The Third Symphony receives a fine reading matched up with a transparently honest recording. It is a common feature with AV 2125 that Zehetmair also features here in the role as violin soloist - this time in a taut, resonant, stingingly abrasive and crystal-cut reading of the succinct Stravinsky concerto - very much in the Pulcinella mode. After the chiselled outlines of the Stravinsky we encounter Sibelius 6 which comes a delightful contrast. Again Zehetmair favours a faster tempo. As expected this lovely work of long singing lines is given a rather objective spin. This can be contrasted with Sakari Oramo's more dramatically symphonic reading with the CBSO on Warner. Oramo will satisfy if you like the work with the emotional hammer well down. I compared the Oramo with a might-have-been-but never-was - Mravinsky and the Leningrad Phil. Zehetmair positively bubbles through the Poco vivace. The audio team catch the harp pulsation at about 1.10 in the finale in a way I have never previously heard. They even give it something of the quality of a zither - or should I say kanteletar.  

Fascinating readings presented to us by Avie.
Rob Barnett
see also review by Colin Clarke


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