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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Veritable Box of Delights
I was looking for a complete set of the Sibelius symphonies and initially wasn't sure whether to go for Barbirolli or Vanska. But then I noticed this set by the LSO directed by one of my favourite conductors (Sir Colin Davis) so I thought - why not.

The symphonies were recorded live during concerts in the Barbican, and the recorded sound is exemplary. For me...
Published on 1 Jan 2012 by happysalvo

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing 5th Symphony
I bought this mainly because of the Radio 3 recommendation for the 5th Symphony. The playing and sound of the orchestra is amazingly delightful but there are some very irritating sounds in the background. Is it someone (Colin Davis?) talking? Whatever it is it ruins what would otherwise be spectacular.
Published 8 months ago by Michael H Richmond


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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Veritable Box of Delights, 1 Jan 2012
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This review is from: Sibelius: Symphonies Nos. 1-7; Kullervo [LSO/Colin Davis] (Audio CD)
I was looking for a complete set of the Sibelius symphonies and initially wasn't sure whether to go for Barbirolli or Vanska. But then I noticed this set by the LSO directed by one of my favourite conductors (Sir Colin Davis) so I thought - why not.

The symphonies were recorded live during concerts in the Barbican, and the recorded sound is exemplary. For me the icing on the cake is the glorious version of "Kullervo" - a massive five-movement, 72-minute epic that was the composer's first symphonic work. I haven't heard this piece since I had the Paavo Berglund set on EMI vinyl when I lived in South Africa in the early '80s, so it's a real joy to hear it again.

This is music to entertain, to excite, to move you to the depths of your soul. If you want just one, really complete, set of the Sibelius symphonies, this is definitely the one - and at the asking price, what a bargain!
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24 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Top Choice, 9 Sep 2011
This review is from: Sibelius: Symphonies Nos. 1-7; Kullervo [LSO/Colin Davis] (Audio CD)
Some conductors, like Paavo Berglund, see Sibelius as an essentially abstract composer. Others, like Sir Colin Davis, see him as a poet of nature, both its sunny side and its dark, menacing aspect, both of which in their turn reflect the inner torments of the composer and of mankind. I incline to Davis's viewpoint. His readings have power, majesty as well as feelings of gloom and depression. They are infinitely subtle in their shadings of orchestral colour. Vänskää alone on 'Bis' obtains even quieter 'pianissimi'. A particular delight in the Davis set is the reading of 'Kullervo', which is a revelation, since I had always thought of it as rather long-winded and second-rate. Here all the nature-painting, the rushing of the wind in the trees, the bird-calls, along with the total commitment of all concerned, not least the choir, make for an experience which leaves one with the realization that Sibelius never wrote a second-class symphony. Indeed, I would go as far as to say that he is a more profound and subtle symphonist than the now over-played Mahler. At the very least, he provides a welcome contrast.

Though the acoustic of the Barbican is dryish and lacking a little in depth of perspective, it is better suited to Sibelius than the plush sound of, say, "Decca' in Vienna and is not really a problem. If the best sound is a must, then go for the "Bis" recordings.

There is another version conducted by Rozhdestvensky on "Melodyia" which I would place even higher than Davis's, despite the relatively high price and the less-than-perfect playing and recording, the latter giving too much prominence to the brass occasionally. However, these readings have an overwhelming epic sweep and are incredibly exciting. They evoke the dark forests and the snow-covered landscapes to a sometimes quite frightening degree, which make them my personal preferred versions of these mighty symphonies.
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23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Spine tinglingly stirring and incredibly moving, 29 Dec 2011
I've been in love with the music of Sibelius since I was very young, which is more years than I am prepared to admit.

My music collection has been full of it with performances of varying quality. Somehow the music always transcended the quality of the recording or the musicians performing it - I thought. But this year, as a result of the the BBC's Symphony series, I replayed one of my recordings and changed my mind. It was awful and had to be replaced.

I was looking for a complete series and as soon as I saw Colin Davis' name I knew this had to be the one. What a great choice. I bought MP3 as I play music increasingly on my PC and I haven't stopped playing it since.

These performances have raised the hair on the back of my neck, brought tears to my eyes and lifted my spirit. They have reinforced my love of Sibelius and shown me the difference between an average and a truly great interpretation.

Whether or not you already love Sibelius, and whether or not it has been recommended on CD Review, I don't care. I recommend this recording unreservedly and I know you'll love it.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Scintillating Sibelius...with vocal accompaniment, 27 Jun 2012
By 
Terry Foster (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Sibelius: Symphonies Nos. 1-7; Kullervo [LSO/Colin Davis] (Audio CD)
The first thing to note is these are fabulous performances and are beautifully recorded. Some moments really make your spine tingle...the magical transition to the trio in the 5th, the majestic 2nd finale, the moulding of themes from the 1st...and so on.

However, buyers should be aware that every symphony is accompanied by vocal contributions from Sir Colin Davis and if this is likely to get on your nerves, it's probably best to have this set on the basis of the performances and an additional one omitting the vocal variations.
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35 of 40 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Sibelius Symphonies in Splendid Re-Creation, 24 April 2010
This review is from: Sibelius: Symphonies Nos. 1-7; Kullervo [LSO/Colin Davis] (Audio CD)
British conductors and orchestras seem to have a specially refined feeling for the works of Sibelius. I once learnt to love the symphonies of the great Finnish composer through Sir John Barbirolli's interpretations, much underrated nowadays, I'm afraid. And now it will be most plausible that when I want to return to the Sibelian masterpieces I will yearn for Sir Colin Davis's new set of versions, because they own such an incontestable value of undisputed renewal and strongly personal design - about the same way as Leonard Bernstein's Mahler symphonies are incomparable.
Sir Colin mostly chooses slow tempi and a subdued, thoughtful sound, with appropriate climaxes, and he completely avoids the super-dynamic tendency that is in fashion in our time - thanks Heaven! You immediately hear that his versions are amazingly fresh, yes, sort of revolutionary, and they have a universal stamp at the same time, a bit different from the great national Finnish tradition, starting with Robert Kajanus and leading up to Salonen, Berglund, Kamu, Segerstam, Saraste and Vänskä in later days. There is an astounding and compelling originality in the majestic Sibelian sound world of these four live discs, with excellent playing of LSO.
Symphony No 1 is powerful and relievingly un-Tchaikovskyan, the great Second and Fifth magisterially soaring in the upper regions of music. No 3 has a lighter, almost pastoral character, much attractive. No 4 owns nothing of that gloomy "bark bread" character that traditionally is attached to it. No 6, the symphony with four fast tempi, is surprisingly slow and moderate, until the enormously effective finale comes. And I think I have never heard No 7, a symphony often difficult to structure well, so winningly and convincingly played. What a delightful and glorious symphony it is!
The Kullervo Symphony at last: a consummate interpretation of the symphony Sibelius wished to deport into oblivion. What a shame to this solemn and grandiose work it had been, if succeeded, is effacaciously proved by Sir Colin and his London Symphony Orchestra, by brilliant soloists like Monica Groop (mezzo) and Peter Mattei (baritone), and finally by the London Symphony Chorus, singing in grave Finnish, as if thay had done nothing else in their previous choral activities.
So why hesitate? Take your time and listen och relisten, until you are captivated by the magic and the mysteries of the splendid interpretations of this box. It belongs to the category of "eternal companions".
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing 5th Symphony, 13 Dec 2013
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This review is from: Sibelius: Symphonies Nos. 1-7; Kullervo [LSO/Colin Davis] (Audio CD)
I bought this mainly because of the Radio 3 recommendation for the 5th Symphony. The playing and sound of the orchestra is amazingly delightful but there are some very irritating sounds in the background. Is it someone (Colin Davis?) talking? Whatever it is it ruins what would otherwise be spectacular.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A fine memorial to Colin Davis, 21 May 2013
By 
Mr. A. J. Downs (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Sibelius: Symphonies Nos. 1-7; Kullervo [LSO/Colin Davis] (Audio CD)
There is much to admire here, with orchestral playing of the highest quality and the interpretation is never less than intelligent and interesting, though perhaps missing at times the remoteness and other-worldliness a few other conductors have found in the works.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sibelius Symphonies with Colin Davis, 20 Sep 2012
By 
Dr. J. S. Miller (Haverfordwest) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Sibelius: Symphonies Nos. 1-7; Kullervo [LSO/Colin Davis] (Audio CD)
I'd been looking for a Sibelius set for a while, and this one is superb. Although these are live recordings, the sound is excellent and the performances vibrant and beautifully developed. I thoroughly recommend this set
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent performances, competitively priced, 16 July 2013
By 
Mark Kelly "Performance!" (Notts, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Sibelius: Symphonies Nos. 1-7; Kullervo [LSO/Colin Davis] (Audio CD)
For price, it would be hard to beat this package in terms of modern recording quality.

In terms of performances, there is obviously strong competition from Vanska & the Lahti Orchestra, but if you can afford both sets in whatever format, go for both!?

Thank you, Sir Colin, for all you've done for my musical enjoyment over the years - sadly mourned, but with a wonderful recording legacy to enjoy.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Davis or Berglund?, 2 Jun 2014
By 
Lance Edwards (derbyshire UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Sibelius: Symphonies Nos. 1-7; Kullervo [LSO/Colin Davis] (Audio CD)
I have enjoyed this set of recordings of my beloved Sibelius and hesitate to criticise them. Davis was undoubtedly a great Sibelius conductor. Often his speeds are on the fast side (which is generally good) but he is occasionaly too slow, as he ferrets round for detail. As well as the archjitecture He brings out the sense of nature, the rocks and crags, snow and water which so endear the composer to me. Recently, however, I took a chance and ordered the Bournemouth set by Berglund and I'm not sure I don't prefer it. The older recording has been very succesfully remastered and presents no problems, while Berglund seems to find the flowers and trees in the landscape without sacrificng the ruggedness. At the very least the Burgland is an excellent economic purchase, but I have the feeling I shall be reaching out for his set even more often than for the Davis. (For 4 and 6, however, you must have the Karajan!)
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