Classical Editor: Rob
Jean SIBELIUS (1865-1957)
Symphony No. 5 (1915)
Symphony No. 7 (1924)
rec Symphony Hall, Boston, Jan 1975
Colin Davis's Sibelius with the Boston Symphony has been a respected catalogue
mainstay since it was first issued. I still have the boxed set of Philips
LPs. The Seven can now be had with the violin concerto (Accardo) on a pair
of Philips twofers. If this Davis version appeals (there is a much later
BMG/LSO cycle as well) you would be better advised to chase after the much
more economical twofers. They should be in easy supply.
Davis's approach brings tremendous weight to these scores and the Boston
are in 'great orchestra' form. What escapes this listener and eludes Davis
is a sense of tension. The mooring ropes lie slack and the massy
three-dimensional sound does not compensate. The Fifth is creditable but
the Seventh plods laboriously. Fully aware that this leaves me in a minority
of one I will record my admiration for the grunt and growl of the trombones
(try 5.58 track 4 in No. 7) but otherwise I would point people towards the
Sakari cycle on Naxos (still living cheek by
jowl in the Naxos lists with the Leaper set!) and the Berlin Classics Sanderling.
Davis digs deeper from the midpoint of the Seventh onwards but by then it
is too late. In the Seventh the nonpareil has to be Mravinsky's Leningrad
players recorded in concert in the Moscow Great Hall in the mid-1960s
(BMG-Melodiya). In No. 5 I rate
Anthony Collins on Beulah (Decca
original tapes but in mono).
This disc is short in total duration. It was not a good judgement to constrain
the Philips 50 series to straight copies of original LPs. Much better if
another Sibelius work could have been squeezed in. The sleeve designs
of the original LPs etc decorate the cover of the CD. If you want this
performance then track down those Philips twofers - much better value for
Notes and sound are respectively apt and strong.
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