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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Excellent Box of Top Recordings, 11 Nov 2013
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Cute 'n Cuddly Bartok (Oxford-ish, not Budapest) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Icon - Paavo Berglund (Audio CD)
Paavo Berglund is one of those conductors whose reputation will probably be greater following his death (in January 2012), in that he really only started becoming properly appreciated outside Finland later on in his life, and spent a great deal of his active career on the fringes of European Music, even though he did get engagements with many of the bigger orchestras. Bournemouth is not by nature a centre of musical excellence, but thanks to the likes of Berglund, and Constantin Silvestri of course, its reputation is still right up there with the very best provincial towns anywhere in the world!

So there's only a little Sibelius in this box? So what - many people will already have one or other of Berglund's EMI symphony cycles, and personally I might not have bothered with this set had I had to duplicate. But here we have some excellent performances, of an orchestra that does have a distinctive sound, under a conductor who did have a highly distinctive voice. Yes, Berglund's approach with Sibelius could be described as "cold", and there is much of that bleakness brought out in the major symphonic works by Nielsen (an excellent 5th here!), Shostakovich (No.11 is a real highlight of this set) and Vaughan Williams (both the 4th and 6th are fine performances). But there are smiles here too - lots of miniatures from the North, Alfven's Rhapsody being a lovely, lilting performance of a delightful work; the Dvorak works too,even the Franck Symphony has a relaxed quality, bursting into a raucousness towards the end, rare in other recordings. And we do get Berglund's Kullervo, his Helsinki version from 1985, a better version than his Bournemouth reading from fifteen years earlier, not just because of the incomparable anguish in Jorma Hynninen's singing of the title character.

Ignore the one-star review - utter nonsense! There may be some of Berglund's recordings missing, but there is plenty here to be getting on with, And this is five-star stuff from a five-star conductor who will be missed sorely
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful recorded collection of the work of the late lamented Paavo Berglund, 31 Jan 2014
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This review is from: Icon - Paavo Berglund (Audio CD)
As a long time supporter member of the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra I was overjoyed when this box set was released. I just had to have it. I have great memories of many of these performances both in the concert hall and on vinyl. Their reappearance on CD is most welcome and I have to say that, for the most part, the recorded sound as remastered is superb. The highlights are surely the Shostakovich performances. Anyone who still thinks of the Bournemouth orchestra as a mere provincial band will surely change their mind on hearing these performances. Bearing in mind that the recordings were made in the Seventies it was already evident what a superb orchestra they were then and still remain. The quality of their work is down to the efforts of first, Constantin Silvestri and, second, Paavo Berglund. They laid the foundations for the splendid orchestra the BSO has now become.

Apart from the Shostakovich the Nielsen 5th Symphony also receives a gripping performance and I was also much taken with the Franck Symphony, one performance and recording that I was not familiar with. There is also an outstanding performance of the Sibelius Kullervo Symphony this with Helsinki forces, although the earlier recording with the BSO is also very fine and recorded in a slightly more sympathetic acoustic, the Helsinki performance seems to have taken place in a rather dry environment. Finally, there are two very fine performances of symphonies by Vaughan Williams, the 4th played by the Royal Philharmonic and the 6th by the BSO. It's not surprising that Berglund chose these two particular works. Their powerful and somewhat bleak qualities do reflect his Nordic character. The lighter fare also shows that the rather stern looking Berglund could also do lollipops in the Beecham style. The Shostakovich Symphonies are the centre piece of this set and these performances and recordings are more than a match for any of the more recent issues of these works. The whole box is thoroughly recommended.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Worthy Tribute to a Great Conductor, 13 Jan 2014
This review is from: Icon - Paavo Berglund (Audio CD)
Completely agree with the other 5 star review. A really excellent set. Those who criticise the selection of recordings are missing the point. All Berglund's great Sibelius recordings have been available in a wide variety of reissues and including a lot of them here would diminish the attraction of the set. There are other orchestras here but the majority of the recordings celebrate his Bournemouth years and give a much richer picture of his achievements with fine recordings of Franck, Nielsen, Vaughan Williams and Shostakovitch, many of which have not been easy to access in recent years. Tremendous value and a great way to really get to know the work of this self effacing and profound musician.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bravo Paavo, 9 Mar 2014
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This review is from: Icon - Paavo Berglund (Audio CD)
Berglund was one of the finest musicians I have experienced . The finest Sibelian of all his interpreters and this box is a welcome tribute.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars EXCELLENT COLLECTION., 25 Feb 2014
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This review is from: Icon - Paavo Berglund (Audio CD)
I particularly wanted a recording of Kullervo symphony with Berglund conducting as I had performed this with the
SCOTTISH NATIONAL ORCHESTRA and CHORUS under Berglund when he was the Principal Guest Conductor. The whole set is excellent and covers very well his Bournemouth years.Highly recommended.
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