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A lesson in how NOT to conduct Sibelius.
on 22 February 2016
For me this is absolutely the wrong way to conduct Sibelius. Bernstein constantly tries to squeeze emotion out of the music, with bulges in the phrases and unwelcome emphases to try and force home a point. This just converts the symphonies into some kind of generic Euro-Kitsch. As Michael Rohan points out:
"After the Fourth, he famously remarked that while contemporary European composers were concocting multi-coloured cocktails, he offered a drink of pure spring water. In his later symphonies, the epic Fifth, pastoral Sixth and close-knit, classical Seventh, external influences have long since dissipated."
I admire Bernstein for composing West Side Story and a small number of other recordings, but he was the wrong guy for Sibelius. Many others do it better, and much more idiomatically.