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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Comparing this to Davis' previous RCA account, 5 Aug 2011
By 
Andrew R. Barnard (Leola, Pa United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Sibelius - Symphony No 2; Pohjola's Daughter (LSO, Davis) (Audio CD)
Sir Colin Davis is apparently a real fan of Sibelius. After releasing his complete symphonies with the LSO for RCA in the 90's, he's returned to them once more with the same orchestra, offering us live readings on the LSO Live label. I own both his LSO attempts at the 2nd symphony, so I thought I might write a review comparing the two, especially for those who are trying to decide between the two.

The RCA reading of this symphony was one that took advantage of the rich, deep sound of the LSO. Davis relied heavily on that sound there; it was big and brassy, and full of the rich texture that makes this orchestra famous. But what I missed in that account was a feeling of love for the music. While everything was technically perfect, it often sounded forced and a bit unsympathetic. While the brass shined in superficial brilliance, it often ended up sounding like a lot of exciting noise. All in all, it wasn't bad, and some moments were real special, but overall I found much to be lacking.

This newer LSO Live account fares much better. Perhaps surprisingly, Davis has become more animated and involved with his increased age. There is something about the LSO's dark quality that makes it well suited to Sibelius, a composer whose music is descriptive of the cold, dark forests of his Finland. This quality was strongly apparent in the RCA reading, but it's equally present here. While the climaxes don't have the bite that they had in the RCA account, I hardly mind, as Davis brings much more beauty out here. In fact, part of the problem in the RCA recording was that Davis tended to surround the listener with an almost harsh bigness of sound when you really wanted something more heart touching. Here you get plenty of heart touching material. What's more, the LSO seems to let loose more. I actually pick up on much more detail and the end result is about twice as thrilling. While there were some special moments in the RCA account, almost everything I liked about it can be said about this one too, plus a whole lot more.

This is not to say that this release is perfect. As beautiful and inspiring as it is, one could ask for a bit more passion and sweep, particularly in the finale. Other reviewers have put their rating down to 4 stars for this reason; this is fair, as I almost did so myself. But for me, the feel that Davis does have for the music ends up leaving me so inspiring that I can't bear to chalk my rating down. It's just so beautiful, so full of love.

And before I forget, I should comment on the Pohjola's Daughter that is also included on this disc. The interpretation is really a success, good enough to stand next to the wonderful 2nd symphony that will follow it. Opening with a stunning solo cello, this symphonic poem is full of hair-raising drama that Davis seems to have totally under his grasp. The LSO plays with great vitality, wonderfully responding to Davis' touches. I can't say anything but good about it.

In closing, this is a wonderful performance that captures the darkness of Sibelius' music while still being interesting and beautiful. And if you're trying to decide between this and the RCA interpretation, grab this one. You won't regret it.
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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Sibelius on sacd, 27 Oct 2009
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This review is from: Sibelius - Symphony No 2; Pohjola's Daughter (LSO, Davis) (Audio CD)
A fine recording of fine music from a fine orchestra under a fine conductor. Not quite up to the recording standard of symphonies 3 & 7 on sacd, which took my breath away, but fine all the same.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars soothing, 16 Jan 2014
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This review is from: Sibelius - Symphony No 2; Pohjola's Daughter (LSO, Davis) (Audio CD)
very nice I was calmed and soothed by this disc, a pleasing addition to my collection and very good to paint and work to in general
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