This mono disc collects together Collins' EMI ALP (1578 and 1649) recordings.
It is effectively a supplement to the Decca LSO/Collins Symphony set. The
sound quality is ever so slightly distressed and especially at the treble
extreme. The coarse edge which this lends to the sound is especially suitable
to Sibelius's music even in this popular fare.
Karelia is exciting with hushed tense expectation lovingly conjured. The
rush of excitement at 1:20 in the Intermezzo is memorable. The Alla Marcia
skips and winks along. The Swan of Tuonela is done in honeyed style by Leonard
Brain. En Saga is a recording that deserves to be counted in the same company
as Horst Stein's 1970s Suisse Romande anthology. At 3.50 there is a whirled
fury of a flourish but the overall atmoshpere of contrasted dazzling icy
whiteness and shivering blackness is impressive. The slaty unanimity of the
bardic strings at 9.30 and the emotionally supercharged excitiement at 13.24
are moments not to be passed up. It is a pity that the disc ends with a sallow
piece: the Romance for strings.
Overall then a disc for Sibelians who are ready to be surprised. Highlights:
Karelia and En Saga.