23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
A seminal set,
This review is from: Sibelius: The Symphonies & Tone Poems (Decca Collectors Edition) (Audio CD)
This is a seminal set of these works. If you want windswept forestscapes and lakes, then go for Berglund or Segerstam; high drama, Rozhdestvensky; mythic romantic narrative,Barbirolli, Ashkenazy or Ormandy; but if you want to reach deep into the dark heart of the Sibelian imagination, delved into and explored with utter intellectual rigour, uncompromising passionate engagement and a truly revelatory spiritual journey, then these have never been surpassed. Nor are they likely to be, even by Davis himself whose quest to perfect and refine his interpretaion has produced two further cycles with the LSO. Both are utterly superb cycles, but neither have the edge and improvisatory relish of this set, which has a sense of discovery and freshness that the later, perhaps wiser, but less spontaneous readings cannot replicate. Also, the LSO, though masterly, just can't match the fervour and aplomb of the Boston players with their scintillating strings, lucid woodwind and sonorous brass, underpinned by a percussion section whose dynamism is without parallel. As a result, the symphonies emerge with a cogency and compacted energy that even these terse works do not quite possess elsewhere, however idiomatic and exciting those performances may be. Indeed, I would suggest that whatever favourite readings you may possess (and I have many) it essential to supplement them with these truly historic accounts, which receive the best recording of any of the Davis versions.