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71 of 71 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars first-rate Sibelius
I ordered this half expecting to end up feeling like a gullible mug (as has sometimes been the case in the past when, swayed by gushing Amazon reviews I've splurged on yet another box set of familiar repertoire.) On the basis of 2, 3, 5 and 6 I already feel I got more than my money's worth - they are terrific in every respect. If the quality holds for 4 and 7, then yes,...
Published on 21 Feb. 2013 by benosaurus rex

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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Top quality Sibelies symphonies
An excellent set of Sibelies symphonies at a bargain price. High quality, wonderful value
Published 1 month ago by walton


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71 of 71 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars first-rate Sibelius, 21 Feb. 2013
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This review is from: Sibelius: Complete Symphonies, Tapiola, Karelia suite, Finlandia, The Bard (Audio CD)
I ordered this half expecting to end up feeling like a gullible mug (as has sometimes been the case in the past when, swayed by gushing Amazon reviews I've splurged on yet another box set of familiar repertoire.) On the basis of 2, 3, 5 and 6 I already feel I got more than my money's worth - they are terrific in every respect. If the quality holds for 4 and 7, then yes, this truly is the bargain of the year. Everything is right here: transparency and exquisite delicacy in the ensemble passages; perfect timing and huge, gorgeous, enveloping sound in the dramatic climaxes; and those beguiling Sibelius timbres rendered perfectly throughout. The Bournemouth players acquit themselves here with real distinction, and they are not let down by the sound engineers. Sibelius simply doesn't come better than this - at any price.
PS I have now listened to 7: wow, wow and wow. The structural lynchpin of this one-movement work is a glorious hymn-like theme that first emerges, blazing and golden, on solo trombone at 5'17". Berglund handles its two subsequent appearances amazingly, achieving real power and menace at 10'51" (love those dark, rumbling, wave-like chromatic ascents and descents on the cellos and basses!) and a breathtakingly beautiful aural sunrise at 17'47". (The trick in the latter is the clarity and deliberateness with which he builds up, layer by layer, the accompanying repeating six-crotchet figure in the strings until it comes to the fore with searing intensity.) After such extremes, the sense of serene - or should I say exhausted - valedictory repose in the theme's final statement at 20'09" is all the more deeply felt: this has been a real journey. It's the most urgent, dramatic reading of Sibelius 7 I've ever heard, and the Bournemouth players pull it off brilliantly. A must-hear, and one to come back to again and again.
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87 of 89 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sibelius as it should be., 1 Feb. 2013
By 
Paul Collier (Sutton, Surrey. England.) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Sibelius: Complete Symphonies, Tapiola, Karelia suite, Finlandia, The Bard (Audio CD)
Oh god, I hope I'm not turning into one of those "things were better in my day" type of person. However, this box set has set me thinking. I find the trouble with most recordings of today (not all), Is the striving for beauty of sound above all else which can result in rather bland results. That is not a problem here. Not that the Bournemouth orchestra don't play beautifully here,they do. What matters here is structure and cohesion. Briefly:
Symphony number 1. One of the few recordings of this symphony that look forward to Sibelius's later works rather than back or sideways to the Russian romantic tradition. The scherzo in particular sounds a bit like Janacek in places with beautifully observed dynamics, which is a constant feature in this set.
Symphony number 2. Absolutely thrilling,especially in the development section of the 1st movement where tension can easily drop.
Symphony number 3. Quite simply the best version available of this symphony anywhere. You are left in no doubt that from bar 1 Berglund has his eyes on the final few bars.
Symphony number 4. Again very fine. Listen to the opening cello solo, beautifully played but with the colour drained from it. Some versions make it sound like Brahms.
Symphony number 5. Properly observed dynamic markings especially in the transition between movements 1 and 2 (trumpets only F not FF) and at the very end of the last movement make this one of the best version available.
Symphony number 6. This really elusive work, which has elluded most conductors, receives a lovely performance here.
Symphony number 7. Wonderfully layered performance. again you sense that from bar 1 Berglund has his eye on the symphony's moving conclusion.
Very rich and warm vintage EMI sound. One complaint. How about a 5th disk with Haendel's magnificent performance of the violin concerto along with Pohjola's Daughter. Oh well you can't have everything.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What is delight?, 12 Feb. 2014
By 
Andrew C. Mitchell (Manchester, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Sibelius: Complete Symphonies, Tapiola, Karelia suite, Finlandia, The Bard (Audio CD)
Five hours of Sibelius, 14 great works including 7 symphonies, a range of approaches to the natural world, one of the world's greatest conductors - Paavo Berglund. There are two movements from the jovial Karelia Suite. There is the melancholy inner grace of one of the Lemminkainen Legends depicting the Swan of Tuonela with lovely cor anglais playing. Then there is the powerful patriotism of Finlandia and two movements from the King Christian Suite. The mighty and magnificent symphonies numbered one and two are given powerful advocacy by the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra playing in the fine acoustic of the Southampton Guildhall. Sibelius, money-earning, Valse Triste is revealed in its tender terrible beauty. The third and fouth symphonies are shown in riveting detail. In the tone poem The Bard, antiquity, and folk memory are tended by great solo harp and some reflective string playing. As with Beethoven, the fith and sixth symphonies are appealing for different reasons. No 5 is full throated and filled with tension and crescendos and climaxes. No. 6 is gentle and lyrical and pastoral. Sibelius related it to snow.
Finally there is the fusion of movements into one in a wonderful performance of the 7th Symphony. And relating to the forests of Finland there is the lengthy tone poem - Tapiola. It is a fitting conclusion to a momentous 4 CD box. This is delight.
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35 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Berglund's best, 12 Jan. 2013
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This review is from: Sibelius: Complete Symphonies, Tapiola, Karelia suite, Finlandia, The Bard (Audio CD)
It's great to see this fine set reissued - thanks to EMI. It is arguably the best of Berglund's three cycles recorded in studio. There are also live performances with the LPO and the Concertgebouw which are well worth hearing, though the latter comes in a large, expensive box. I was particularly struck by the sheer quality of the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra's playing, the equal of any other band in these works, I suggest. A set to put alongside Sir Colin Davis on LSO live. Perhaps EMI will now consider issuing a box of the Shostakovich symphonies AND concertos which Berglund recorded in Bournemouth.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful Music, 19 Aug. 2013
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This review is from: Sibelius: Complete Symphonies, Tapiola, Karelia suite, Finlandia, The Bard (Audio CD)
I used to own an LP of one of Berglund's recordings of Sibelius. When I saw these recordings I just had to buy them, because Berglund (to me at least) he managed to extract more of the mood of the music than any other conductor. Beautiful music and well recorded.
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24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sibelius: Complete Symphonies, 1 Mar. 2013
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This review is from: Sibelius: Complete Symphonies, Tapiola, Karelia suite, Finlandia, The Bard (Audio CD)
One of my favourite composers. A very good album.
I am 90 years old, and it is good to listen to such wonderful music.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars As good as the others say, 15 Feb. 2014
This review is from: Sibelius: Complete Symphonies, Tapiola, Karelia suite, Finlandia, The Bard (Audio CD)
I need not add much in the way of detail to support the favourable reviews from others raving about this set. Berglund was a natural Sibelian, as I recollect from concert performances attended with the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra when I was a student many moons ago and also towards the end of his career when I heard him conduct Sibelius at the Edinburgh Festival with the chamber Orchestra of Europe.

All of these are committed performances, especially the 4th and 7th. The last symphony is especially memorable and is by a small margin my must have performance of this masterpiece.... It would be worth buying the set even for that account alone but there is much to enjoy.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars One of the best Sibelius sets at bargain price, 21 Mar. 2013
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This review is from: Sibelius: Complete Symphonies, Tapiola, Karelia suite, Finlandia, The Bard (Audio CD)
At the time of posting this review there are 57 others sitting on the page, many of them of the ‘5 stars: It’s great!’ (end of review), variety. So I thought I’d set down a more considered view of these performances, each of which I’ve known for many years.
Ask a dozen people to recommend just one Sibelius complete symphonies set and you’ll get a dozen different answers. Ask me and I’d say Bernstein (Sony). But there would be caveats, no set is successful throughout and Bernstein falls well short of the best in No 6 and somewhat short in No 4. Berglund in Bournemouth produced this set during the 1970s and I think that overall it’s better than his two later surveys.
Symphony 1: (5 stars) gets just about as good a performance as I’ve heard, though Bernstein NYPO is somewhat more animated in the fourth mvmt.
2: (4 stars) gets off to a languid start though the pace picks up a little later on. There’s a slight impression throughout of things being reined in all the time. Bernstein’s is a much tauter performance, as is Barbirolli’s great Royal PO recording from the early 1960s.
3: (3 stars) not bad in the outer movements but mvmt 2 is far too slow; tedium sets in almost immediately. Bernstein once again gets it right I think.
4: (3 stars) lacks weight, mood and tension throughout. Karajan (DG) and Maazel (Decca) are far preferable.
5: (4.5¬ stars) in its own right this is a satisfying performance, but compared to much of the competition (Karajan, Bernstein, Barbirolli, et al) it’s just a tiny bit lacking in the ‘fire and ice’ department.
6: (5 stars) is always a bit hard to judge, no matter who’s in charge of proceedings. This is one of those odd works that can stand a wide degree of interpretation, though not to the degree that Bernstein applies to tempi. Berglund’s though is a very glowing and poetic performance – one of the best I’ve ever heard.
7: (5 stars) is the one true gem of the series; mystical, majestic, stormy, tranquil, and perfectly paced at every twist and turn. Only Bernstein’s NYPO Seventh is a contender, though that performance is quite different from Berglund’s, being tauter and grittier yet slower overall: two great but different Sevenths for different days.
An average of 4 stars overall then for the symphonies, which is pretty good and compares favourably with other top sets. The fillers are standard fare in standard performances, the one stand-out item being a pugnacious, steely ‘Tapiola’; a performance that gives even Karajan a run for his money. The ADD recording quality is very good to truly outstanding, beating most modern digital efforts by a country mile. If you have the earlier set from Royal Classics, it’s worth re-investing in the newer set as there’s quite an improvement in the sound. The BSO was a darn good orchestra in the 1970s and yields little or nothing to many rivals in this music. Fantastic value for money and highly recommended.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a revelation, 6 Mar. 2014
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This review is from: Sibelius: Complete Symphonies, Tapiola, Karelia suite, Finlandia, The Bard (Audio CD)
On the basis of the reviews i read on Amazon about these recordings ,i bought this set, both the penguin
guide and the Gramophone at the time of the original releases on lp ,did not give unconditional praise to this cycle, i think it is the
best in one way,that is tension, and the sound is fantastic, i have owned the Karajan both dg and EMI ,Davis Boston and LSO, Mazzell , Vanska and a few individual issues,Bernstein included,but this cycle is my desert island set now ,thanks for the feedback from amazon buyers
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Central recommendation?, 20 Oct. 2014
By 
JayJayDee (Allovertheworld) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Sibelius: Complete Symphonies, Tapiola, Karelia suite, Finlandia, The Bard (Audio CD)
There are plenty of complete stereo cycles of Sibelius symphonies on the market that will give great pleasure: from the early Maazel and Barbirolli sets, through the Colin Davis Boston set (which is possibly the finest of his revisits), through the '80s Birmingham accounts by Rattle to the Vanska set from the 1990s which is authentic and both well recorded and well played. I would not be without any of them but tend to favour the 40 year old Rozhdestvensky set in its remastered form.
But this Berglund cycle has been underestimated over the years and it is good to welcome it back into my collection. The relatively neglected 3rd and 6th Symphonies come off particularly well. It could have trumped the opposition if it had included Berglund's earlier Kullervo recording. There is no reason why this issue could not have been a 5 disc set, for a couple of more £. As it is we are to be grateful for smaller mercies because this set is viewed by many as a central recommendation for a single survey of the symphonies.
I would commend this as a present for somebody just embarking upon a lifetime's interest in this wonderful composer. Berglund, here, is more consistent than Maazel, tauter than Barbirolli's affectionate performances, more distinctive than Rattle and better recorded than Rozhdestvensky.
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Sibelius: Complete Symphonies, Tapiola, Karelia suite, Finlandia, The Bard
Sibelius: Complete Symphonies, Tapiola, Karelia suite, Finlandia, The Bard by Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra (Audio CD - 2013)
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