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Sibelius: Violin Concerto, Finlandia, Tapiola [Import]

Christian Ferras Audio CD
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
Price: 7.96 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over 10. Details
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Product details

  • Orchestra: Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
  • Conductor: Herbert von Karajan
  • Composer: Jean Sibelius
  • Audio CD (19 Mar 1997)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: Import
  • Label: Deutsche Grammophon
  • ASIN: B00000E3HR
  • Other Editions: MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 148,884 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Listen to Samples and Buy MP3s

Songs from this album are available to purchase as MP3s. Click on "Buy MP3" or view the MP3 Album.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         

Samples
Song TitleArtist Time Price
Listen  1. Jean Sibelius: Violin Concerto in D minor, Op.47 - 1. Allegro moderatoChristian Ferras16:13Album Only
Listen  2. Jean Sibelius: Violin Concerto in D minor, Op.47 - 2. Adagio di moltoChristian Ferras 9:041.09  Buy MP3 
Listen  3. Jean Sibelius: Violin Concerto in D minor, Op.47 - 3. Allegro, ma non tantoChristian Ferras 8:071.09  Buy MP3 
Listen  4. Jean Sibelius: Tapiola, Op.112Berliner Philharmoniker20:23Album Only
Listen  5. Jean Sibelius: Finlandia, Op.26, No.7 - Andante sostenuto - Allegro moderato - AllegroBerliner Philharmoniker 9:340.79  Buy MP3 


Product Description

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Customer Reviews

4.0 out of 5 stars
4.0 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Savage Finlandia 15 July 2011
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
A superb bargain of a disc with not only the Violin Concerto played by lesser know Christian Ferras but also an absolutely searing account of Finlandia.

Karajan is so suited to this repertory that it is a shame he did not record more Sibelius.

However, a fine recording with wonderful solo playing in the concerto and two fantastic tone poems.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Sibelius: Violin Concerto 29 Aug 2010
Format:Audio CD
I bought this CD for the Christian Ferras recording of the Sibelius Violin Concerto and I am not disappointed.
His rendering of this emotional piece is the best I have ever heard. The BP is splendid.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Cover says it All 19 April 2013
Format:Audio CD
This was the only time that Karajan committed the Sibelius Violin Concerto to disc - he did not record it even with Ann-Sophie Mutter. All of his wider credentials as a Sibelian are on display here: he imbues the music with a sense of fragility, of half-light and the immensity of nature. Christian Ferras was a fine enough violinist (his Brahms violin sonatas on DG with Pierre Barbizet are astounding) and he certainly adds to the bite of the performance. His tone is rich and there is a visceral excitement to his art. The great climax in the slow movement is played gutsily by all concerned. One of Karajan's strengths as a conductor was his pacing - when the revelatory moments come, one is left in no doubt as to their arrival.

The Tapiola here makes one deeply regretful that the Eighth Symphony - a contemporary of this work - had a Close Encounter with Siblius' fireplace at Ainola: what a piece Tapiola is! It brings to mind that famous line by Auden: we are lived by powers that we pretend to understand. Here, Tapio is pantocrator in a primordial forest that not even Prokofiev's Wolf would readily tread . . . .

Finer still, performance-wise, is Finlandia - Herbie's second recording of the piece. The Berlin Phil, then at the height of their fame, gave their utmost to the cause. It is virtuosity incarnate. This rendition is surely a high-water mark in the thirty year relationship of Herbie and the Berlin Phil. While the EMI remake from 1976 is worthy enough, the digital remake from 1983 cannot hold a candle to this torrent of a performance.

The recording does not hide its age but it is still listenable.
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7 of 16 people found the following review helpful
Format:Audio CD
It seems that if I express a careful but negative review, especially if Karajan is the conductor, I am likely to suffer indignant responses. Well, if you are a dedicated Karajan/BPO or Ferras fan, or if you like this violin concerto to sound endlessly gloriously romantic, this review will not be of interest: there are plenty of other affirmative positive reviews here for you.

I would hope that anyone who looks beyond the Karajan / Berlin Phil image and seeks the icy intensity and fiery bleakness of Sibelius would find my comments at least reasonable from that point of view.

I first heard this recording of the violin concerto on vinyl in 1974 (when it was competing with the fabulous version by Kyung-Wha Chung with Andre Previn and of course the great 1960 release of the vibrant intense 1959 Heifetz/Hendl version). It embodies the DG and Berlin Phil sound under Karajan, rich, warm and sonorous, golden even, and Ferras plays the Sibelius romantically and warmly. I fail utterly to see, however, what this warmly engaging version has to offer for those who love Sibelius' unique musical idiom. Looking at the score, the overwhelming sense of bleak passion and fire without warmth draws one into the world of cold landscapes and the loneliness of isolation - as also seen in The Swan of Tuonela, or Nightride and Sunrise, for example. The violin voice so well understood by the violinist composer seems best illustrated in less romantic, cooler, interpretations of this work, where the vibrato is tight and barely warming (like Heifetz, Mullova, Chung, Kang, Kraggerud, for example). Ferras plays very slowly with a slow and wide vibrato, and a concert hall reverberation, bringing a romantic warmth completely out of place in this work.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.2 out of 5 stars  4 reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars If I were stranded on a deserted island... 4 Sep 2011
By Montcler - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
I bought this recording of what is arguably the greatest piece of music for an instrument of the 20th century when it first came out in 1965. Since I have bought more than 15 recordings of this concerto to compare and hoping against odds to find a better rendition. There is NONE. Don`t look further this is THE recording. I heard recently that Karajan had tears in his eyes when he performed with Ferras and then slapped him in the face urging him to stop drinking. What a waste of talent.
If I were stranded on a deserted island....
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Cover says it All 10 Aug 2011
By Bernard Michael O'Hanlon - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
This was the only time that Karajan committed the Sibelius Violin Concerto to disc - he did not record it even with Ann-Sophie Mutter. All of his wider credentials as a Sibelian are on display here: he imbues the music with a sense of fragility, of half-light and the immensity of nature. Christian Ferras was a fine enough violinist (his Brahms violin sonatas on DG with Pierre Barbizet are astounding) and he certainly adds to the bite of the performance. His tone is rich and there is a visceral excitement to his art. The great climax in the slow movement is played gutsily by all concerned. One of Karajan's strengths as a conductor was his pacing - when the revelatory moments come, one is left in no doubt as to their arrival.

The Tapiola here makes one deeply regretful that the Eighth Symphony - a contemporary of this work - had a Close Encounter with Siblius' fireplace at Ainola: what a piece Tapiola is! It brings to mind that famous line by Auden: we are lived by powers that we pretend to understand. Here, Tapio is pantocrator in a primordial forest that not even Prokofiev's Wolf would readily tread . . . .

Finer still, performance-wise, is Finlandia - Herbie's second recording of the piece. The Berlin Phil, then at the height of their fame, gave their utmost to the cause. It is virtuosity incarnate. This rendition is surely a high-water mark in the thirty year relationship of Herbie and the Berlin Phil. While the EMI remake from 1976 is worthy enough, the digital remake from 1983 cannot hold a candle to this torrent of a performance.

The recording does not hide its age but it is still listenable.
10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Ponderous and too romantically golden for such a bleak concerto 22 May 2012
By Passionate Eclectic_Collector - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
It seems that if I express a careful but negative review, especially if Karajan is the conductor, I am likely to suffer indignant responses. Well, if you are a dedicated Karajan/BPO or Ferras fan, or if you like this violin concerto to sound endlessly gloriously romantic, this review will not be of interest: there are plenty of other affirmative positive reviews here for you.

I would hope that anyone who looks beyond the Karajan / Berlin Phil image, and seeks the intense "fire without warmth" and icy bleakness of Sibelius would find my comments at least reasonable from that point of view. I gave my score according to my preference for the performance of the violin concerto, with reasons below; and not the skill and world renowned musicianship of the artists, which are unique in their ways.

Christian Ferras has recorded this 3 times, one live (with Mehta) available to view on YouTube, and one (with Szell) available to view via virtuosochannel dot com.

I first heard the Ferras/Karajan recording of the violin concerto on vinyl in 1974 (when it was competing with the fabulous version by Kyung-Wha Chung with Andre Previn and of course the great 1960 release of the vibrant intense 1959 Heifetz/Hendl version, and I forget how many Oistrakh recordings - 3 or 4 by then). It embodies the DG and Berlin Phil sound under Karajan: rich, warm and sonorous, golden even, and Ferras plays the Sibelius romantically and warmly. I fail utterly to see, however, what this slow and warmly engaging version has to offer for those who love Sibelius' unique musical idiom. Looking at the score, the overwhelming sense of bleak passion and fire without warmth draws one into the world of cold landscapes and the loneliness of isolation - as also seen in The Swan of Tuonela, Tapiola, or Nightride and Sunrise, for example. The violin voice, so well understood by the violinist composer, seems best illustrated in less romantic, cooler, interpretations of this work, where the vibrato is tight and barely warming (like Heifetz, Mullova, Chung, Kang, Kraggerud, Wicks, for example). Ferras plays very slowly with a very wide vibrato, which becomes nervously over-intense in the second movement, and a concert hall reverberation acoustic, bringing a romantic warmth completely out of place in this work. This version is amongst the very slowest second and third movements on record, even slower (and more pedestrian) than the supremely cool intense slow Neveu recording. His collaboration with Karajan seems in fact ponderous and over-indulgent, whereas his other two recordings (with Szell, and with Mehta - also available to watch on DVD) are far superior (from the violinist's point of view of tempi and cold passion), though clearly not so well-recorded sound. Hearing his other two recorded versions, one wonders who was taking the lead in setting the pace here - it is so unlike Ferras' other well-paced renditions.

Naturally, I understand if listeners want to hear a golden concerto with climactic highlights sounding like hollywood film music, but I personally find such versions miss the whole point of this masterpiece. The Sibelius is one of the very few truly great and truly original violin concerto masterpieces. The second movement should move one to tears with a sense of intense loneliness and passion, not a warm schmalzy cliché.

The performance of Tapiola is truly fine and refined, for long time the best in the catalogue until the (very different) Paavo Berglund later outstanding performance with BSO.

Given the true musical greatness of the above works, by comparison Finlandia is a piece of fluff, so a critique of this is probably irrelevant for anyone considering this disc. Nevertheless, Karajan makes this patriotic untypical-for-Sibelius militaristic-overtone-music sound glorious. It is indeed a fine performance.

Note: The digital transfer for his CD has inferior rather dulled sound compared with the original UK vinyl pressing, to my ears.

If you want to hear a modern iconic performance of the Violin Concerto, try Kyung-Wha Chung (coupled with Tchaikovsky), even though it's recorded in 1970 or so - it's the version I keep returning to (and soon to be released as a remastered DSD stereo SACD). For digital clarity and exceptional Sibelian interpretation from violinist and conductor, try Victoria Mullova (icy) or Henning Kraggerud (cold but noble), or try Tasmin Little if you want a slightly less tight vibrato but still icy and great orchestral collaboration, they're outstanding. Older immortal classic iconic versions include Heifetz/Hendl 1959 "living stereo sacd" recent remastering, Camilla Wicks (Biddulph 2006 release remastering) if you can find it; or David Oistrakh (Ormandy); or Heifetz/Mitropoulos live with NYPO - the most satisfying Heifetz version IMO, if you can find it.

Buy this if you admire Ferras impeccable sound and technique, and the effective collaboration with Karajan.
Buy it if you prefer Karajan's Sibelius anyway, and if you want the finest Tapiola of the 1960s-80s.
Buy this CD if you want Sibelius Concerto warmed up, not if you want to understand the bleaker Jean Sibelius idiom.
(Though it remains a mystery to me why anyone would wish to serve Sibelius warm - its perfect straight from the fridge).

Comparisons:
Ferras/Mehta live - view video on virtuosochannel dot com
Ferras/Szell live - view this on YouTube - see the second movement again and again.
Guila Bustabo - 1940 Jean Sibelius' second most beloved performer and benchmark recording esp 3rd movement
Anja Ignatius/Järnefelt 1943 - Jean Sibelius' most beloved performer, historical document.
Neveu/Barbirolli 1946 - a remarkable mono benchmark.
Camilla Wicks 1952 (Biddulph remastering or japan emi classics - blazing sound, corrects the wow and flutter) - rare but truly outstanding benchmark in sound, technique, rapport, and interpretation.
Haendel/Ancerl 1953 - Jean Sibelius admired Haendel's live radio performance
Haendel/Berglund - 1975
Haendel/Rattle - 1996 benchmark live performance
David Oistrakh (Ormandy) - Benchmark.
David Oistrakh (Ehrling) - Another excellent Oistrakh version
David Oistrakh (Rozhdestvensky) - Another excellent Oistrak version
Heifetz/Beecham -First recording 1935 - Benchmark mono and Jean Sibelius' admired recording.
Heifetz/Hendl - 1959 -SACD living stereo 3-ch remastering - Benchmark performance
Heifetz/Metropoulos - live - the most expressive 2nd mvt of Heifetz' versions.
Kyung-Wha Chung/Previn -sounds like a live performance electrifying but utterly perfect. Benchmark.
Kraggerud/Engeset DVD-A. Benchmark in surround sound.
Suwanai SACD (playing Heifetz' Strad "Dolphin"). Benchmark as hybrid SACD.
Kang/Leaper (brilliant violin playing, uninspired orchestral rapport)
Mullova/Ozawa - Benchmark ice maiden performance
Lin/Salonen - Benchmark masculine modern recording.
Little/Handley - very fine non-diva idiomatic sibelius.
Kavakos/Vänskä - Original 1903/4 version and final 1905 version comparison
Igor Oistrakh (Rozhdestvensky) - Disappointingly over-mannered
Maxim Vengerov/Barenboim - watch on DVD Video
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars There will never be a greater interpretation! 28 Oct 2011
By Hervie Syan - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
This recording in 1988 was one of my first forrays into classical music and certainly of Sibelius - who is now my favorite composer. I was 16 at the time and due to this recording has been influential within my own career as a composer/pianist.

Let me say - that this recording of all three pieces is second to NONE. Though it is an old recording, the interpretations of all three are unparalleled. Karajan was a master of Sibelius and this CD is a perfect example. Like the review below mentioned - Sibelius considered Karajan to be the only conductor to perform his music as he (Sibelius) wanted it.

The Violin Concert - Ferras and Karajan bring off the performance of a lifetime. No other violinist I have ever heard comes close to the intense turmoil of the violin writing throughout. I doubt there is a darker, despairing piece of music out there and Ferras brings out this shocking questioning music perfectly, It is a masterpiece!

Taipola - again a masterpiece of a very different order. Karajan brings the austere, elemental magic and power of the Gods raging through the forest. Finlandia is unbelievable too. The famous melody is masterly rendered.

Karajan brings balance, poise to the performances - there is tight control over the BPO as was his trademark - and yet to me - Karajan's greatest renditions have always been works of great conflict or questioning - the searching bi-tonality of the Violin Concerto, the monolithic nature of Tapiola and the courageous Finlandia are brought to sonic glory in this recording.

You will never find a greater performance!!! In all my years with these pieces, I haven't found one that comes close to this CD. Enjoy!!!
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