One of the most grown-up review sites around

2021
55,946 reviews
and more.. and still writing ...

Search MusicWeb Here

     
  
 







International mailing


 
Founder: Len Mullenger                                    Editor in Chief:John Quinn             

Some items
to consider

 

paid for
advertisements


3 for 2 Offer



All Forgotten Records Reviews


TROUBADISC

100th birthday of Mieczyslaw Weinberg on December 8, 2019.
Renate Eggbrecht has recorded all 3 violin Sonatas
All Troubadisc reviews


FOGHORN Classics


Mozart Brahms
Clarinet Quintets
All Foghorn Reviews


Puertas de Madrid
www.emecdiscos.com
All EMEC reviews


www.emecdiscos.com
All EMEC reviews


All Reference Recordings


Eugène Ysaÿe: Violin Discoveries
review
All Divine Art Reviews


Debussy Complete Preludes

 


 


Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing
sample

Sample: See what you will get

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
   
Rob Barnett
Editor in Chief
John Quinn
Seen & Heard
Editor Emeritus
   Bill Kenny
MusicWeb Webmaster
   David Barker
Postmaster
Jonathan Woolf
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger

 

Discs for review may be sent to:
Jonathan Woolf
76 Lushes Road
Loughton
Essex IG10 3QB
United Kingdom
Ph. 020 8418 0616
jonathan_woolf@yahoo.co.uk


 

 

Support us financially by purchasing this from

Jean SIBELIUS (1865-1957)
Symphony No. 2 in D major Op.43 (1901-02) [45:29]
King Christian II (Suite), Op. 27 [25:10]
Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra/Santu-Matias Rouvali
rec. 2019, Gothenburg Symphony Hall, Sweden
ALPHA CLASSICS 574 [70:43]

I heard Santu-Matias Rouvali conduct live recently and was very impressed, so I had high hopes for this recording. I was not disappointed; his affinity with Sibelius, the greatest Finnish composer and his compatriot, is apparent from the first gently pulsing notes of this mercurial symphony. This is a lithe, focused account of Op. 43 and comes across as being in safe hands throughout; Rouvali never lingers or indulges, yet his affection for the music pervades every bar, as not a dynamic nuance or phrasal subtlety is lost. It was a good idea, too, to pair that moody, dynamic work with the generally lighter, more lyrical incidental music for Adolf Paul’s play King Christian II, thereby achieving a neatly devised programme whose balance is complemented by first-rate sound and truly virtuosic playing from the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra.

Some conductors domesticate and “folksify” Sibelius too much for my taste as if he were Grieg but his music needs to sound wild and rhapsodic and the scurrying strings and fluttering woodwind create an atmosphere of tension and expectation from the outset; particularly noticeable is Rouvali’s use of shaded dynamics and rubato; I don’t think I have heard more vital, telling conducting of Sibelius since the heydays of Karajan and Ormandy. Fortissimo climaxes such as that at 9:22 just before the conclusion of the first movement are given full rein. The ominous timpani and pizzicato figure over bassoon mutterings in the opening of the Andante soon develops into a frenzied cry before subsiding into a more lyrical, ruminative mood, then once again Rouvali cranks up the tension; he manages all the transitions of mood and pace with real aplomb, giving the brass its rein in the central section, then building inexorably to the movement’s grand, gloomy close. The Scherzo is relentless, melding triumphantly into the big D major theme, then the music meanders teasingly before its gradual re-emergence and majestic progress to a resolution bathed in sunset glow. The playing of the Gothenburg orchestra is as sonorous as any of the “big names” orchestras.

After such riches, the gentle, lilting melodiousness of the suite comes almost as a shock, but you could not ask for more persuasive advocacy of this youthful, richly orchestrated and somewhat neglected music. The triple-time tune of the Nocturne has a Mediterranean warmth enhanced by a “castanets” effect but tempered by a typically Sibelian melancholy reminiscent of Valse triste. The Elegie is similarly sumptuous yet wistful; no cool, Nordic detachment here – what lovely music this is. A chuckling Musette is succeeded by a slightly less inspired Serenade and the suite concludes with the propulsive, “moto perpetuo” Ballade, played here with verve and vigour.

It seems to me that Rouvali judges everything right in these exemplary performances. This is masterly Sibelius, alternately refined and red-blooded, and augurs promisingly for Rouvali’s tenure as principal conductor of the Philharmonia; I shall watch out for both his concerts and recordings.

Ralph Moore



Advertising on
Musicweb


Donate and keep us afloat

 

New Releases

Naxos Classical
All Naxos reviews


All Chandos reviews


All Hyperion reviews


All Foghorn reviews


All Troubadisc reviews


Click to see New Releases
Get 10% off using code musicweb10
All Divine Art reviews


All Eloquence reviews


All Lyrita Reviews

 


Obtain 10% discount

Recordings of the Month

November


Donizetti - Le Convenienze ed Inconvenienze Teatrali


Chamber Symphonies 2 & 4


French Cello Concertos

 

October


Shostakovich