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on 10 June 2011
You look at the price for this download and do a double take. £[] for all the 7 Symphonies, Violin Concerto, the complete Lemminkainen Suite, Karelia Suite, Finlandia, Valse Triste, En Saga, Snofrid, Tapiola and an Overture in E Major?

And then you think that there must be a catch? But, no, there isn't, and you really can get all these for just £][ and, what is more, these are the highly rated Vanska performances that have met critical acclaim as possibly the best overall SET of the Sibelius symphonies. I highlighted "SET" as many, as I, may have individual performances that they prefer, but as a set Vanska is close to the top of the tree, if not at the top.

The sound quality of the recordings is remarkably consistent from work to work and, as has already been mentioned in another review, the bitrate used by Amazon for the transfers is pretty good. The bitrates indicated in Windows Media player run from 204kbps to 337kbps, which indicates that Amazon use variable bitrate encoding using a lower rate in less demanding sections, where it won't be noticed, and increasing this to accommodate, usually, the loudest passages. And it shows in the sound here, which is clear and open with a well defined bass where necessary. The loudest passages are accommodated with ease.

All the performances are first rate, and so are the recordings, but I would draw attention to the balance of Kavakos in the Concerto, in case you are used to a soloist being projected in the foreground. He is placed within the orchestra, but from live concerts I've attended, this actually sounds more natural and, fortunately, he still comes through and is not lost within the orchestra.

All in all, a super bargain. Christmas has come early and I would recommend you download ASAP before Amazon realise their mistake!
23 people found this helpful
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 18 October 2011
At £5.99, if this download turned out to be inferior recordings with a less than good quality orchestra, it would still be worth listening just to discover different ways of playing Sibelius to help you appreciate better ways. I do not usually download, preferring to have the CDs as a fail safe and fall-back but I was looking for a Sibelius set and saw this. The later symphonies and "Finlandia" and the "Karelia Suite" (both of which I heard in school for the first time and have loved ever since) have been favourites for many years and I already had CDs, but I thought I would take the risk with the early symphonies.

It turned out to be one of the best decisions I have made looking for CDs. Osmo Vänskä and the Lahti Symphony Orchestra have produced a wonderful set which turned out to be more than "just" the symphonies. I did not know what to expect and bought this on trust - and a few reviews from Amazon!

Buy it quickly and, if you do not write reviews, start today to help other people.

Highly recommended
8 people found this helpful
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on 26 July 2012
Make no mistake this set is up there with the very best Sibelius cycles and in some cases trumps the lot.

The finale of the third symphony may seem an odd place to start but Vanska gets this tricky movement so right that he immediately goes to the top of the tree in the marvellous and inexplicably neglected symphony. Many performances settle for a kind of aggregate tempo for the scherzo and finale sections of this movement to the detriment of both. Vanska's scherzo dances magically (a feature of this set as a whole) whereas his finale has terrific gravitas.

The elusive and equally neglected 6th is given its best performance since Beecham and Karajan. Vanska might be said to combine the best of those predecessors: Beecham's feel for atmosphere with Karajan's drive. This would imply that Vanska is anything other than his own man. The end of the symphony, too often a kind of afterthought, becomes here the true climax, quite as affecting in its own way as the more celebrated endings of the 7th and Tapiola.

These last two are given wonderful outings here. I still prefer Karajan's first DG Berlin recording of Tapiola but this performance can regard famous recordings like Koussevitsky and Beecham as it's only peers. The 7th is fabulous with the Lahti strings playing their hearts out at its conclusion.

The first two symphonies are rather more ordinary. Vanska is highly tuned to the half lights in the 1st and nobody could possibly be disappointed unless measuring it against the very best. Colin Davis' Boston recording comes to mind but even that yields to Kajanus' famous set. The same could be said of the 2nd though I must confess to being unconvinced by Vanska here, particular in the notoriously difficult slow movement which can hang fair and sound like endless empty rhetoric.

Of the bonus an excellent Lemminkainen stands out. The Lahti strings cannot match Ormandy's peak era Philadelphia band but who can? An excellent violin concerto from one of the most thoughtful violinist around and you can't really go wrong.

Finally the original version of the 5th symphony was a fascinating one off listen but I don't think I will be returning much. In almost every instance Sibelius' changes were improvements. Snofrid, on the other hand, a work I had not previously heard, should be required listening for anyone who loves Sibelius.

All in all a terrific set and the price is bordering on the immoral!
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on 14 June 2016
I'm in a 9th floor flat,south facing...sunshine all day plus views of the hills.
so I'm always standing at the window to listen to my orchestral downloads.
I'd only got to the 2nd movt.1st symphony...had to sit down...overwhelming.
never heard sibelius like this before....compelling and very clearly differentiated musical voices.
decided that 2 symphonies with this degree of controlled intensity,is enough for today....bet I can't let today end without listening to the 3rd....NB....this is BIS....at any price this VANSKA set is a treasure...and what is it about the Lahti S.O. that's so transparently compelling.
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on 6 December 2012
Prior to purchasing this collection of Sibelius,I had only previously heard Finlanda which I enjoyed so thought I would take a punt on hearing some more from this artist. I have listened to all of the songs several times and find them to be some of the most beautiful classical music that I have ever heard. Sibelius has become my most favourite of composers and the quality of the recordings and the beauty of the music is just stunning. For the outlay the music is just worth every single penny and then some not just a bargain but more a bargain of the century.

This album is a great introduction to the music of Sibelius and it will want to make you want to search out more of this composers amazing works. I just love it and have to play at least one cd's worth of his music every day because i find it so inspiring and uplifting. If your new to Sibelius or have listened to just one or two of his works take a punt on this glorious album you will not be disappointed.

Jason leefarr
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on 11 February 2013
This is a very well reviewed set of all the Sibelius symphonies, plus some extras including the violin concerto. When these recordings were first issued they played a big part in the establishment of Vanska as a conductor of note. This collection is extremely well recorded and played, a bargain not to be missed
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on 28 July 2015
This is a really super bargain from Amazon. Performances are exciting and intense. A very good reading of all the music and at this price an excellent way of getting to know this music. Not all of it was familiar to me. Sound quality is good and I had no problems with the download.
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on 16 May 2015
All the symphonies plus an early version of the fifth (the revised version is definitely an improvement but the 1915 version is worth hearing). Not to mention numerous other pieces. And excellent performances: Osma Vanska is a leading Sibelius interpreter so this really is excellent value. Not one to hesitate over!
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on 26 August 2015
The complete symphonic works of Sibelius conducted by an acclaimed conductor for under £10?
Couldn't believe my eyes!
Buy it before they raise the price!
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on 31 July 2017
Brilliant
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