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  Classical Editor Rob Barnett    


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Jean SIBELIUS (1865-1957)
En Saga (1892) [19.42]
Karelia Suite (1893) [15.51]
Violin Concerto [32.35]
Victor Tretyakov (violin)
Tchaikovsky Symphony Orchestra of Moscow Radio/Vladimir Fedoseyev
rec. Dec 1998 (En Saga), Dec 1998 (concerto), May 1999 (Karelia) ADD
Recordings from Russian State Foundation of Radio and Television
RELIEF CR991052 [68.05]

I have always found the Russian slant on Sibelius to be a promising one. Rozhdestvensky's set of the symphonies (not yet on CD) and his direction of the Moscow RSO in the classic Oistrakh recording of the concerto (BMG-Melodiya), Sinaisky in the complete tone poems (Harmonia Mundi Saison Russe LDC 288 015-017), Mravinsky in the Seventh Symphony, all suggest a virile alchemy between the two cultures even though the histories of the two countries has been far from harmonious.

Fedoseyev takes a broad line with En Saga which, while accentuating its brooding poetry, compromises its dynamism and momentum. I love this piece but at 19.42 this is too much of a good thing ... at least for a listening recommendation. This is a live concert recording and the risks associated come home to roost in the last few minutes when a persistent hacking cougher adds unwelcome punctuation. I compared the Fedoseyev in En Saga with my reference version Horst Stein/Suisse Romande (Decca 415 697-2) and the Sinaisky/Moscow PO. Stein flies along at 16.15 while Sinaisky takes 17.45. Both produce a more gripping effect though neither quite matches the 1943 Furtwängler version (Berlin) on Music and Arts.

Tretyakov (b.1946) has played in the West but his name does not have the éclat of an Oistrakh or even a Kogan. Once again the joint conception between conductor and soloist is broad in the Violin Concerto. Oistrakh takes the work in 31.15 (BMG) while Ferras and Karajan in 1965 took 33.23. Tretyakov has the advantage of a one-off concert event lending the accustomed sense of occasion while at the same time exposing the occasional rough edge. Vibrato is not a problem he suffers from and things go very well. In fact this is a satisfying version, for those liking their Sibelius steady rather than rushed, without being specially outstanding. The Concerto came from the same concert as the En Saga.

Fedoseyev does like his Sibelius steady. Perhaps this is the inculcated tradition. The Karelia Suite's famous allegro moderato starts well with plenty of buzzing tension but when the ‘oompah’ main theme starts, the pace is excessively deliberate. The allegro ma non tanto is taken at a cracking pace - really enjoyable.

The recording is outstandingly clear and empowered.

Fedoseyev recorded a cycle of Glazunov symphonies in the early 1980s. It was issued in a Eurodisc boxed set of LPs. I wonder if Urs Weber the producer of this excellent series will be able to persuade the conductor and Relief to issue that cycle for the first time.

Meantime if you like your Sibelius high wide and emphatic this disc is for you.

Rob Barnett



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