Colin Davis's interpretation of Tchaikovsky's `1812' and `Romeo & Juliet' is one of my favourite classical LPs from my teenage years, so it's good to have it now on CD. The fine Sibelius pieces are a bonus. And all in such good sound too! The sleevenotes, as well as referring to the music, also spend time explaining how only `now' are we able to fully appreciate the quadraphonic recording technique used at that time. The sound is spacious, clear, alive, though occasionally lacking in depth.
Davis's interpretation of the `1812', with choir at start and finish, is by no means perfunctory. He forces the orchestra to bring out the drama of every bar. In the `Romeo & Juliet' it is the dynamic contrasts that stand to the fore, again further emphasising the drama.
Of the three Sibelius pieces, certainly the least well-known is the tone-poem `Pohjola's Daughter'. Its drama contrasts with the previous `Romeo & Juliet', clearly demonstrating a different composer's approach to literary subjects. I am presently reading the `Kalevala' and am starting to appreciate the links between the Finnish national literary epic and the interpretations of it by Finland's most epic of composers, for example where closely-repeated notes might be seen as mirroring the closely-repeated poetic lines, both often with subtle changes.
The `Valse Triste' is a traditional interpretation, but in the `Karelia Suite' Davis takes the march of the opening `Intermezzo' slowly - and, one might say, without seriousness, as if to show its inherent pomposity rather than its equally inherent nobility. But the sadness and joi-de-vivre of the ensuing `Ballade' and `Alla Marcia' are maintained. The benefit of the improved sound quality can definitely comes into its own in the latter.