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Sibelius/Symphonies 4 & 5

Jean Sibelius Audio CD
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
Price: £17.95
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Product details

  • Audio CD (3 Oct 1996)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Berlin Classics
  • ASIN: B0000035VY
  • Other Editions: MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,637,948 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

1. Sym No.4 in a, Op.63: 1. Tempo Molto Moderato, Quasi Adagio
2. Sym No.4 in a, Op.63: 2. Allegro Molto Vivace
3. Sym No.4 in a, Op.63: 3. Il Tempo Largo
4. Sym No.4 in a, Op.63: 4. Allegro
5. Sym No.5 in E Flat, OP.82: 1. Tempo Molto Moderato-Allegro Moderato
6. Sym No.5 in E Flat, OP.82: 2. Andante Mosso, Quasi Allegretto
7. Sym No.5 in E Flat, OP.82: 3. Allegro Molto

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
By I. Giles HALL OF FAME TOP 50 REVIEWER
Format:Audio CD
Sanderling recorded the complete Sibelius symphonies plus a few extra works used as fill-ups in the 1970's with the Berlin Symphony Orchestra (not the BPO) for the Berlin Classics label. This set has the double disadvantage of being recorded with a relatively unknown orchestra and for a relatively unknown label. Both of these disadvantages should be discounted by any serious collector of Sibelius discs.

The orchestra is completely up to the job producing markedly better playing than that found with some more prestigious orchestras. Sanderling was the sort of conductor who was able to obtain first class playing from the musicians in front of him regardless. He had worked with this orchestra on other projects such as several of the Shostakovich symphonies so the orchestra and conductor were very used to each other and it shows.

The recordings are uniformly excellent giving good internal balances plus full range dynamic and tonal sound. This is good honest sound engineering.

The interpretations are strongly perceptive with all relevant details brought out but nothing unusual is attempted. There is plenty of excitement at the climaxes which are the result of correct pacing and which build most impressively. Passages of wintry bleakness are well understood and effectively delivered. In general terms Sanderling is able to build inner tensions from within the music by means of tempo and dynamic accuracy linked to, and enabling, important instrumental interplay. The strings produce an inner glow as melodic ideas blossom and the brass have a solid and burnished strength bringing impressive weight to climaxes. All of this is very satisfying musically and can make other performances seem relatively superficial at times.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.0 out of 5 stars  3 reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars The low point in Sanderling's cycle 25 Mar 2012
By Santa Fe Listener - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
I avoid reviewing dead losses, but I've been going through Kurt Sanderling's Sibelius cycle from the Seventies disc by disc. It begins with an anomaly, an eye-opening Sym. #1 that promises great things to come. For the most part, nothing great happens. The third is quite enjoyable, but the conductor seems totally at sea in this installment. The entire cycle covers a number of years, form 1970 to 1977, and it seems that the later you go, the more listless the performances. I've never heard a more aimless Sibelius Fourth than the one here, from 1977, which is full of dispirited playing from the Berlin Sym., never better than an also-ran orchestra at their best.

I hope for better from the 1971 account of Sym. #5, which after all is a repertory staple, but Sanderling sleep walks through it, too, so the entire program has no bright spots. In short, a CD to avoid.
5.0 out of 5 stars Two fine performances from the complete and consistently fine set by Sanderling 23 Feb 2013
By I. Giles - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
Sanderling recorded the complete Sibelius symphonies plus a few extra works used as fill-ups in the 1970's with the Berlin Symphony Orchestra (not the BPO) for the Berlin Classics label. This set has the double disadvantage of being recorded with a relatively unknown orchestra and for a relatively unknown label. Both of these disadvantages should be discounted by any serious collector of Sibelius discs.

The orchestra is completely up to the job producing markedly better playing than that found with some more prestigious orchestras. Sanderling was the sort of conductor who was able to obtain first class playing from the musicians in front of him regardless. He had worked with this orchestra on other projects such as several of the Shostakovich symphonies so the orchestra and conductor were very used to each other and it shows.

The recordings are uniformly excellent giving good internal balances plus full range dynamic and tonal sound. This is good honest sound engineering.

The interpretations are strongly perceptive with all relevant details brought out but nothing unusual is attempted. There is plenty of excitement at the climaxes which are the result of correct pacing and which build most impressively. Passages of wintry bleakness are well understood and effectively delivered. In general terms Sanderling is able to build inner tensions from within the music by means of tempo and dynamic accuracy linked to, and enabling, important instrumental interplay. The strings produce an inner glow as melodic ideas blossom and the brass have a solid and burnished strength bringing impressive weight to climaxes. All of this is very satisfying musically and can make other performances seem relatively superficial at times.

I note from previous reviewers that opinion is split on this issue, so a matter of taste perhaps. For my part I find these two performances quite capable of being compared with the best available for all the built-in reasons as above. The fourth is particularly successful as this is a symphony that responds well to a 'slow burn' build of tension as here. Other fine fourths must include Vanska, Maazel and Karajan.

The fifth can respond to more openly exciting interpretations such as Karajan or Gibson to take two contrasting approaches, Karajan being more tonally sophisticated and Gibson's LSO more instrumentally diverse or 'soloistic' in approach. Both share the same sense of drive. So do Rattle and Davis in their first recordings. Nevertheless Sanderling displays the alternative virtues of a longer view towards the final conclusion which is just as impressive.

In conclusion these two performances are well worth exploring and are both impressive. The boxed set of all the symphonies and other works is even more impressive especially as it costs only a little more than any one single issue.

My main suggestion therefore is to consider the complete boxed set as the priority if there is interest in these fine and consistently satisfying readings by Sanderling.

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Some dialogue from the comments section that may offer further help:

Great and constructive review, thank you. I have just 'stumbled' across Night Rise And Sunrise on Spotify. It feels and sounds just right, compelling and completely within the wonderful world that Sibelius created on paper - to be understood and played by the few whom could reach inside. (U.K. review)
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5.0 out of 5 stars Fine versions of 4 and 5 16 Dec 2012
By Tero - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
The fourth is very well done, maybe in my top 3. The fourth symphony has somewhat slow tempos like Segertam, and the 5th is very well done.

See my review for the box set 1-7. Four stars for that, 5 for the fourth alone.
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