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Sibelius: Finlandia, Tapiola, En Saga, Karelia Suite

5.0 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Orchestra: Philharmonia Orchestra
  • Conductor: Vladimir Ashkenazy
  • Composer: Jean Sibelius
  • Audio CD (25 Oct. 1990)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Decca
  • ASIN: B000006M8Y
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 172,268 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Product Description

DEC 417762 2; DECCA - Inghilterra; Classica Orchestrale

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An old but wonderful recording. Look no further to hear a few masters work their magic and bring out the very best in Sibelius.
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Excellent top drawer Decca recording. Probably the best Finlandia iv'e ever heard. And that goes for the rest too. Absolutely superb. Recommended without question.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 5.0 out of 5 stars 2 reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ashkenazy Will Rock You! 16 Feb. 2012
By John K. Casey - Published on Amazon.com
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I will eschew an analytical description or a history of the pieces of music on this record. You can do that research on your own. What you want to know, I think, is whether the performances on this CD are any good, worthy of your hard-earned dollar when measured against myriad competitors. My unequivocal answer is yes. Ashkenazy conducts this familiar repertoire with extraordinary élan and vigor. The orchestra responds with first class ensemble at all times. "Finlandia" pours forth in a mighty rush. Yet at the most sensitive and delicate moments, such as the Ballade from the "Karelia Suite," every attention is given to detail, without losing the overall sweep of the music. My personal favorite among this group, the early, toe-tapping "En Saga," has been a revelation to me under Ashkenazy, endowed with much more mysticism, dynamism and force when compared to the rather jejune rendering by Eugene Ormandy with which I long have been familiar. What solidarity in the brass! What wispy, undulating playing in the winds! And the strings, especially in the tricky pizzicato and challenging tremolo sections, are always spot on.

These recordings date from the early and mid-1980's, shortly after Ashkenazy shed his role as a world class concert pianist and assumed the mantle of conductor, a transformation he has acquitted with such success that any initial skepticism has long since disappeared. The sound from this period is open, full and rich, with marvelous balance.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ashkenazy and the Philharmonia's excellent Sibelius cycle 7 July 2014
By Phil (not) in Mågnoliá - Published on Amazon.com
Vladimir Ashkenazy and the Philharmonia Orchestra recorded Sibelius's symphonies and tone poem works in the 1970's and 1980's, and they are all excellent performances and highly regarded. I've had this particular disc for many years, and have enjoyed it greatly.

Penguin continues to include these performances as one of their 'recommended' recordings, saying that 'Ashkenazy by temperament brings out the expressive warmth, colour and drama of the composer rather than his Scandinavian chill, reflecting perhaps his Slavonic background", going on to say that the recordings "are full and rich as well as brilliant, most of them still of demonstration quality. A rich and strong, consistently enjoyable cycle". Penguin concludes that they are their top alternative recommendation, following the cycle from Colin Davis (Sir Colin Davis conducts Sibelius - a great bargain to be sure, 7 CD's with all of the symphonic works).

These performances were originally released by Decca on individual CD's such as the one listed here on Amazon. Decca has subsequently, as they are wont to do, re-issued these various performances in a couple of different forms, so anyone interested in these recordings will be well served by also checking the following product listings on Amazon:

Original Decca single-CD releases of Sibelius performances by Vladimir Ashkenazy conducting the Philharmonia Orchestra:

- Sibelius: Symphony 1 / Karelia Suite -- recorded in 1984 (symphony) and 1985 (suite)
- Sibelius: Symphony No. 2 -- recorded in 1979
- Sibelius: Symphonies 3 & 6 -- recorded in 1984 (3) and 1984 (6)
- Sibelius: Symphony No. 4 / Finlandia / Lounnotar -- recorded in 1980
- Sibelius: Symphony No. 5, En Saga -- recorded in 1980 (5) and 1981 (En Saga)
- Sibelius: Symphony No. 7, Tapiola -- recorded in 1982
- Sibelius: Finlandia / Karelia Suite -- containing the same performances of Finlandia, Karelia Suite, Tapiola and En Saga as were included in the above symphony releases (product on this page)

note that all of these above CD's continue to be available on Amazon from third-party sellers, used and sometimes new, and frequently for very attractive prices (as used discs).

Decca re-issued as 2-CD "Decca Doubles", of the above recordings:

- Sibelius: Symphonies 1, 2 & 4 and including Finlandia and Karelia Suite
- Sibelius: Symphonies Nos. 3, 5, 6 & 7 and including En Saga and Tapiola

note that these two 2-CD releases together duplicate all of the material originally released in six individual CD's, with the only omission being the tone poem Lounnotar.

Decca also released still another 2-CD package, this time including the orchestral tone poems from the above releases as disc 1, with the second disc including other Sibelius recordings by Horst Stein conducting the L'Orchestre de la Suisse Romande:

- Sibelius: 'Finlandia' (suites & symphonic poems) ** (see comments below for the link to this recording)

Finally, Decca has packaged all of the Ashkenazy/Philharmonia recordings together into a 5-CD box set:

- Symphonies / Tone Poems ** (see comments below for the link to this recording)

Depending upon pricing of these various releases, it is possible to obtain the Ashkenazy performances of some or all of the symphonies and tone poems for very reasonable pricing, particularly if willing to consider the used market on Amazon.

These are all excellent recordings and worth serious consideration, along with the Colin Davis box set referred to earlier in this review.

(note: since Amazon limits reviews to include a maximum of 10 links, I've included a comment below this review to provide additional links that could not be incorporated in the main text of the review here)
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