> SIBELIUS Legends, Pohjola, Bard: Davis 74321689452 [RB]: Classical Reviews- May2002 MusicWeb(UK)

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Jean SIBELIUS (1865-1957)
Four Lemminkainen Legends (1895)
Pohjola's Daughter (1906)
The Bard (1913)
London SO/Colin Davis
rec 17-19 Jan 2000, Watford Colosseum, Watford, UK
RCA BMG 74321 68945 2 [75.25]


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The major work here is the sequence of four Lemminkainen Legends. This is music of Nordic vitality and readings as widely spaced as Hannikainen's (USSRSO - Melodiya, 1950s), Horst Stein's (Suisse Romande, Decca) and pre-eminently Ormandy's second recording, issued on EMI LP circa 1979 and later reissued on CD, show how brilliance and a diamond-cut imagination can make this music.

Colin Davis and his orchestra soften the focus and blur the jaggedness. There is a relaxation or languor about this reading that saps the music's inherent energy. The warmth of the Colosseum acoustic accentuates the effect. There is something quite enervating about the first poem. In Lemminkainen's Return things improve as they do in the Swan of Tuonela where magic is in the air though without the breaking strain tautness and poise of the 1965 Mravinsky Leningrad PO recording on BMG-Melodiya version. Much the same can be said for the two independent works. They go satisfyingly but want that galvanic spark that lifts Horst Stein's 1972 SRO Decca Pohjola into classic status.

We are now spoilt for choice in Sibelius with even Kullervo available in multiple versions. In this ruthlessly competitive field this new disc is not recommendable. A good showcase for The Bard and Pohjola but Davis and BMG's Lemminkainen is lacking.

Rob Barnett


Swedish RSO/Mikko Franck

Lahti Symphony Orchestra/Osmo Vänskä

Iceland Symphony Orchestra Petri Sakari. (Naxos)


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