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Sibelius: Symphony nos. 5 ,7, & Night Ride and Sunrise

3.3 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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  • Orchestra: City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Philharmonia Orchestra
  • Conductor: Sir Simon Rattle
  • Composer: Jean Sibelius
  • Audio CD (23 Sept. 1991)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: EMI
  • ASIN: B00000DO9W
  • Other Editions: MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 120,196 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
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3.3 out of 5 stars
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By Philoctetes TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 8 Nov. 2004
Format: Audio CD
Make no mistake, this is the greatest Seventh on CD. One of the glories of the Simon Rattle discography, recorded about seven months before his lauded Mahler Two, but no less successful (maybe more so). It may be difficult for other conductors and orchestras to replicate, but that's their problem. Such a wonderful achievement fully deserves to be returned to time and time again.

The CBSO Fifth has always been listed as inferior to Rattle's Philharmonia performance, but I cannot understand that. This one strikes me as possessing far greater vitality and the grand sweep is never in doubt. The outer movements are terrifically exciting and one can hear affinities with the Oceanides in the central andante.

The Philharmonia Night Ride & Sunrise, plus a luminous reading of Scene With Cranes, complete a magnificent and deliciously priced CD. Get it.
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Format: Audio CD
Well, according to BBC Radio 3's Building A Library programme this CD contains the finest versions of the 5th & 7th Symphonies currently available. I'm far from convinced.
Sir Simon Rattle has recorded the 5th previously with the Philharmonia Orchestra and that truly is a fantastic version (and a previous Radio 3 recommendation), but this, while decent enough, isn't in the same league.
In stark contrast to the detailed and measured Philharmonia version Rattle here goes for drama and broad brush strokes. It works well enough on its own terms, and the finale is particularly well done, but can only really be recommended as a good second choice after the earlier version. Also the orchestral sound is poor compared to the Philharmonia (one of the finest recordings I've ever heard) and is marred by thumpy 'dead' sounding tympani and bass.
The 7th here is a messy and uneven affair and really can't be recommended at all. It has some good moments in the 2nd half of the piece but the opening adagio section is quite poor. Those long rhapsodic string lines a couple of minutes into the piece simply don't 'sing' as they should, and the necessary sense of building momentum is almost entirely absent. In this symphony if you blow the adagio you blow the whole thing. A low signal level doesn't help either and neither does the aforementioned thumpy bass and tympani. In addition the CBSO's string sound is rather harsh and lacking in tone and the playing of the CBSO is occasionally rather ragged.
Ironically the CD closes with "Night Ride and Sunrise" performed by the Philharmonia and from the same sessions as Rattle's original recording of the 5th. The sheer quality of the recording, the orchestral sound, and the performance only serves to highlight the deficiencies of the CBSO tracks.
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I purchased this CD for another person but I did manage to hear it. I have to say that I thought the performance of Night Ride was poor and lifeless. Lacked dynamic and colour. The symphonies were better but not by much and there are better performances of the 5th & 7th elsewhere.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) HASH(0x8f91a828) out of 5 stars 1 review
5 of 8 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8f83c234) out of 5 stars CBSO version of the 5th and a weak 7th 3 Dec. 2009
By A Customer - Published on
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Nice compilation of Sibelius orchestral works, all well-played in clear sound.

Some sources have listed this recording of the 5th Symphony as Rattle's earlier performance with the Philharmonia, possibly because its discmate, "Night Ride and Sunrise", has been included. As good as the CBSO recording is, with plenty of rhythmic and woodwind detail clarifying Sibelius' motivic manipulations at every turn, however, it almost sounds cold and calculated next to the more passionate, almost intuitive reading Rattle gave the music with the Philharmonia less than a decade earlier.

That recording and his crystal-clear, almost rapturous 6th (paired with a 4th, which, though having nothing of the circus about it, manages to make the most of that work's rather rarefied, astringent beauties without in any way slighting its structural integrity) are among my favorite Sibelius recordings.

The tone poems are nicely done, but the 7th Symphony merely sounds episodic and poorly balanced, with the brass overpowering the strings at several junctures, to the point of blurring some of the bridge-passages that hold the work together. It may be the engineering, but the work ends up sounding shapeless.

If only Rattle had recorded "Pohjola's Daughter"and "Tapiola" - from the evidence of these recordings, I suspect those performances would have been something special.
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