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Customer Review

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding even in a very competitive field, 9 Jan. 2013
This review is from: Sibelius: Symphonies Nos. 1 and 4 (Audio CD)
This review has been wrongly listed by Amazon under the Vanska/Minnesota coupling by Bis as well as being correctly listed under the original Vanska/Lahti coupling also on Bis. This error cannot be corrected by reviewers so please be patient and either scroll down or read the extra review for additional information. Thanks - Ian Giles


This disc by Vanska and his Lahti orchestra received close to rave reviews from various magazines upon its release and years later, without the impact of fresh discovery, the disc still has the ability to astonish. There are those who claim that only Russians know how to play Rachmaninov and other Russian music. This disc may make some think the same way about Finnish music and its performance!

The first symphony starts with a clarinet solo of such subtlety of phrasing and tone that it is simply breathtaking. The accompanying timpani is equally sensitive and then enter the strings, correctly NOT loudly as found in too many performances but not in the score. Thus the tension is established from the start. This performance is one of extremes. The fast sections are lightening fast but with total precision and articulation maintained so there is no sense of rush or hurry. the slower sections are played with great sensitivity but without cloying emotionalism. The dynamic is equally wide ranging from barely audible hush to cutting fortissimos. The brass are not smoothly cultured as per Berlin nor as weighty and heavy as often found elsewhere. What they have is a searing cutting edge that cuts like a sharp wind rather than weighty like a storm. This is a very exciting reading.

The fourth symphony is an even more subtle performance like the composition itself. Layers of brooding introspection in the first and third movements and tense darting phrases in the second. Every detail made to tell with maximum effect even when quiet. The glockenspiel option in the last movement brings light before the whole piece closes quietly. This is one of Sibelius' finest works in terms of textural subtleties and Vanska and his orchestra are fully up to the task. There are other fine performances of this work but none finer.

The recording is wide ranging and faithful. The width of the dynamic range may be an issue with some replay situations but this is better than compromising this remarkable pair of interpretations and performances.

If the program appeals I would suggest that this disc should be seriously considered as a high priority both for 'only' purchasers and for collectors of multiple versions.
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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 4 May 2013 15:49:08 BDT
Last edited by the author on 4 May 2013 15:51:02 BDT
Karafan says:
Caveat emptor: Amazon have ported over reviews from Vanska's Lahti SO cycle to this set of recordings in Minnesota - go elsewhere for comparative recordings of the two differing recordings! This Minnesota set is in wonderful SACD, too!

In reply to an earlier post on 4 May 2013 16:29:03 BDT
Last edited by the author on 5 May 2013 04:44:31 BDT
I. Giles says:
Thanks for letting me know of the wrong listing. My review is also listed in the correct place so I have now adjusted the review to account for this. Another example of caveat emptor can be found in the new issue supposedly of the Firebird, Rite and Debussy. This is definitely not what many will expect as I hope I have identified for others to be aware of.
Thanks for your information. Best wishes, Ian Giles
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Review Details



I. Giles

Location: Argyll, Scotland

Top Reviewer Ranking: 15