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4.7 out of 5 stars92
4.7 out of 5 stars
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on 23 September 2015
I gave all my old vinyl "classics" records to a charity event some 6 years ago and although having some stuff on "Walkman" tapes - I have came to regret that decision. Currently am re-building my "classics library" on CDs - mainly by box sets of works by my favourite composers, (Rachmaninoff, Chopin, Sibelius, Vaughan Williams, Holst, Bax, and many others).
Have greatly enjoyed listening again to such music, and the Sibelius boxset was a "cracker" - Sibelius music is at times moody/brooding and at others delightful with quick dance melodies incorporated into the symphonic structure.
Quality of recordings? - Paavo Berglund draws fine gradations out of the orchestra and I liked his style better than that of my old vinyl versions. The only criticism, I would make (given that my hearing at nearly 80 isn't as good as it used to be!) is that I found a few of the quieter passages for solo instrument a little difficult to hear, having set the volume so that I didn't disturb the rest of the family late at night!

In essence, the Sibelius boxset is a "good buy" in my opinion!
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on 21 March 2013
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. Maazel (Decca) is excellent too.
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. Maazel's performance on Decca is also a prime recommendation.
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, though Maazel (Decca) is again highly recomendable and better recorded than Bernstein.
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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on 23 October 2015
I do not need to enlarge on the merits of these performances, which I have known and loved for many years.
Just read the other reviews if you need to be convinced. But I do need to add a word about the excellence of these startling new re-masterings. It is as though an old master had been cleaned and presented anew. Don't hesitate to acquire this set!
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VINE VOICEon 9 February 2013
Rob Cowan rates Jean Sibelius as "the greatest symphonist of the 20th century" and this reviewer agrees with him. Sibelius is completely lacking in self-indulgence and conductors do better when they are the same. In spite of the many fine Sibelius symphony cycles by such noted figures as Maazel, Ashkenazy and Davis, this is the one to which I can return again and again.

These recordings have languished in the EMI vaults for far too long. They were re-issued by a bargain label, Royal Classics, in 1998 and that was welcome by those of us brought up on the vinyl releases of the 1970s. Possibly the recent death of Paavo Berglund has reminded music lovers what a great and inspiring conductor he was. There can be no better tribute than these landmark recordings, where a provincial symphony orchestra, led by a little-known conductor, surpassed itself and set a standard by which others can still be judged.

These analogue recordings have been freshly remastered for this release and comparing them against the 1998 issues demonstrates the improvement in digital mastering techniques in the past few years, ironically when the CD format is in rapid decline.

Such are the straights in which the classical recording industry find itself that these marvellous recordings, and many more beside, can be issued at prices that are just such amazing bargains. Don't hesitate - such opportunities will not recur.
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on 19 December 2015
I confess that I bought this set largely because of the amazingly low price but I have been surprised and delighted with the performances. Berglund brings a grandeur to the music which I really like. Is it too fanciful to say it sounds as if it has been carved out of ice? There is also a good selection of tone poems to make the set even better value. if you want to celebrate the Sibelius anniversary on a budget, this is the set for which to go.
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on 29 December 2013
Impressive value. Most of the great symphonic works for very little money, beautifully played and interpreted. I think of Sibelius as rocks, water, ice. Berglund, of course, knows Finland, and as well as the aforementioned he finds the flowers. Great performances and probably all you need for these works.
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on 19 October 2013
You can feel Finland in Sibelius symphonies: The beauty full country of it as well as the finish mood. I love this recordings. It takes a contryyman like Berglund to fully comprehend Sibelius.
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on 7 January 2013
At last - a complete set of these wonderful works under the late, great Paavo Berglund. He brings granite like integrity to each symphony and the 'minor' pieces are quite thrilling. I do wish that the set had been furnished with Berglund and Ida Haendel's peerless recording of the violin concerto but perhaps that would be asking too much!

Each disc is very well filled and this is stunning value for money.

Do not hesitate!
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on 22 December 2014
Without any shadow of a doubt, the one Sibelius set to own. The Bournemouth orchestra play superbly in warm sound, but the interpretations are peerless. Desert island pick.
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on 7 November 2014
Unsurpassed in its strength and authencity, not even by Sir Colin Davis and the Bostonians on Decca [Universal], which cycle is my second choice and has its own fine qualities. But the Berglund-set formes the apex and an now in an incredible bargain offer. Hopefully are the partly new remasterings better or as good as the previous ones.
I just ordered this re-issue for a friend of mine, and I wish him the same delightful moments that I have spent with this marvelous music by a true genius of a composer and his flawless advocate with a band that understand the matter truely. You can't go wrong with this box-set when you like "Nordic music", otherwise give it a try and let you be suprised by this unusual kind of exceptional music making by an underrated and modest conductor with this off-London band. Sure, there are excellent alternative cycles; I want to mention ànd recommend those of Neeme Järvi with Götheborg on DG [Universal], Sir John Barbirolli with The Hallé on EMI [Warner] and Sir Colin Davis, again, but now with the London Symphony on RCA [SONY]for a serious listening too.
Berglund and Bournemouth are still remaining my favourite couple in Sibelius, especially because this combination plays with sheer joy the music of this great son of Finnland: This set has the X-factor in playing Jean Sibelius, and makes the best out of it. Colin Davis and Boston might excells above Berglund and Bournemouth in symphony no. 2, but the latters are spreading more of their qualities throughout the whole cycle. My recommendations are without any hesitation: Buy it, listen to it and be lifted into heaven... Bon voyage!
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