> Sibelius (Symphony No. 2) - Tubin (Symphony No. 5) [RB]: Classical CD Reviews- Nov 2002 MusicWeb(UK)

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Jean SIBELIUS (1865-1957)
Symphony No. 2 (1901) [47.28]
Eduard TUBIN (1905-1982)

Symphony No. 5 (1946) [28.37]
Cincinnati SO/Paavo Järvi
rec 1-2 Dec 2001, Music Hall, Cincinnati, Ohio, USA
TELARC CD-80585 [73.25]


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When the roll-call of audacious classical CD companies is taken Telarc will be there in the line-up. They merit their place not least for their Szymanowski and Hartmann recordings. This disc is in the same vein. True to market imperatives we have Sibelius's Second Symphony but also in there is Eduard Tubin's Fifth Symphony. Both works have been recorded by Neeme Järvi, Paavo's father. While the catalogues heave and strain with alternative versions of the Sibelius, the Tubin is accessible in only two alternative versions, one by Volmer (Alba) and the other on Bis (the original 1980s Tubin cycle conducted by Neeme Järvi).

Sibelius Second: The sad thing is that from the first bar of the first movement the message is one that is seriously undernourished in the tension department. This is several handfuls of seconds longer even than the distended DG version (currently on Panorama) conducted by Karajan pupil, Okko Kamu. While there are some sable and amber half-lights and gracious peacefulness in the second movement, especially at the start, the whole lacks fizz. The recording is subtly shaded and the softs are amongst the tenderest and most beautifully balanced I have ever heard. Sadly though this flaccidly dreamy approach does not work for me. I still recommend Barbirolli (Chesky, not the EMI version), Sakari (Naxos), Collins (Beulah if you can find a copy) or Vänskä (Bis).

Tubin wrote his Fifth a couple of years after leaving Estonia and settling in Sweden. It carries the stamp of Shostakovich in the remorselessness that stalks and judders through the first movement and even in the wispy violin solo that floats up at 5.15 in the first movement. This is probably the best recorded version by comparison with Bis and Alba. The subtle shading evinced by the Sibelius is still there (try the whispered high cycling of the divisi violins in the finale at 3.15) but here the performance has so much more bite and vinegar. This is a very good interpretation and it sounds to me as if Järvi was gripped by the work.

Not a Sibelius Second I could recommend. It might appeal to those who like their Sibelius languid. The Tubin is a quite different proposition - admirably taut, defiant and sturdy.

Rob Barnett

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