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on 21 February 2013
I ordered this half expecting to end up feeling like a gullible mug (as has sometimes been the case in the past when, swayed by gushing Amazon reviews I've splurged on yet another box set of familiar repertoire.) On the basis of 2, 3, 5 and 6 I already feel I got more than my money's worth - they are terrific in every respect. If the quality holds for 4 and 7, then yes, this truly is the bargain of the year. Everything is right here: transparency and exquisite delicacy in the ensemble passages; perfect timing and huge, gorgeous, enveloping sound in the dramatic climaxes; and those beguiling Sibelius timbres rendered perfectly throughout. The Bournemouth players acquit themselves here with real distinction, and they are not let down by the sound engineers. Sibelius simply doesn't come better than this - at any price.
PS I have now listened to 7: wow, wow and wow. The structural lynchpin of this one-movement work is a glorious hymn-like theme that first emerges, blazing and golden, on solo trombone at 5'17". Berglund handles its two subsequent appearances amazingly, achieving real power and menace at 10'51" (love those dark, rumbling, wave-like chromatic ascents and descents on the cellos and basses!) and a breathtakingly beautiful aural sunrise at 17'47". (The trick in the latter is the clarity and deliberateness with which he builds up, layer by layer, the accompanying repeating six-crotchet figure in the strings until it comes to the fore with searing intensity.) After such extremes, the sense of serene - or should I say exhausted - valedictory repose in the theme's final statement at 20'09" is all the more deeply felt: this has been a real journey. It's the most urgent, dramatic reading of Sibelius 7 I've ever heard, and the Bournemouth players pull it off brilliantly. A must-hear, and one to come back to again and again.
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on 12 February 2014
Five hours of Sibelius, 14 great works including 7 symphonies, a range of approaches to the natural world, one of the world's greatest conductors - Paavo Berglund. There are two movements from the jovial Karelia Suite. There is the melancholy inner grace of one of the Lemminkainen Legends depicting the Swan of Tuonela with lovely cor anglais playing. Then there is the powerful patriotism of Finlandia and two movements from the King Christian Suite. The mighty and magnificent symphonies numbered one and two are given powerful advocacy by the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra playing in the fine acoustic of the Southampton Guildhall. Sibelius, money-earning, Valse Triste is revealed in its tender terrible beauty. The third and fouth symphonies are shown in riveting detail. In the tone poem The Bard, antiquity, and folk memory are tended by great solo harp and some reflective string playing. As with Beethoven, the fith and sixth symphonies are appealing for different reasons. No 5 is full throated and filled with tension and crescendos and climaxes. No. 6 is gentle and lyrical and pastoral. Sibelius related it to snow.
Finally there is the fusion of movements into one in a wonderful performance of the 7th Symphony. And relating to the forests of Finland there is the lengthy tone poem - Tapiola. It is a fitting conclusion to a momentous 4 CD box. This is delight.
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on 15 June 2017
A classic collection
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on 3 June 2017
Beautiful...koralia suite superb,,buy it
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on 15 August 2017
Absolutely beautiful music
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on 18 June 2017
Effortless purchase thank you
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on 25 April 2014
If you want to get an idea of just how good these recordings are, try Tapiola or the 6th symphony. They are held together brilliantly. The recorded sound is also superb in its clarity and depth - fine analogue from the 1970s which captures perfectly the delicacy, radiance and forceful playing that Berglund by turns draws from the orchestra. The other performances are all exceptional. Berglund recorded two other complete cycles of Sibelius digitally, but these are as good as any you'll get by him or anyone else.
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on 19 August 2013
I used to own an LP of one of Berglund's recordings of Sibelius. When I saw these recordings I just had to buy them, because Berglund (to me at least) he managed to extract more of the mood of the music than any other conductor. Beautiful music and well recorded.
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on 19 December 2015
I confess that I bought this set largely because of the amazingly low price but I have been surprised and delighted with the performances. Berglund brings a grandeur to the music which I really like. Is it too fanciful to say it sounds as if it has been carved out of ice? There is also a good selection of tone poems to make the set even better value. if you want to celebrate the Sibelius anniversary on a budget, this is the set for which to go.
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on 13 October 2014
I've only just started listening to this set. I shall join those who rave about it.

I guess one way, perhaps, to reach a critical and comparative response to a set of Sibelius' symphonies is to listen to one substantial movement. I'be been listening to how the orchestra and the conductor treat the final movement of the second. It seems to me beyond praise. It is beautifully constructed, balanced, and amazingly clear in all its levels of sound, so that the noble theme moves steadily and inexorably towards its end. It doesn't swagger, it doesn't plod, it seems inevitable and "right." It resounds most movingly and thrillingly.

Each listener will apply his/her own touchstones - some reviewers use the 7th. I shall listen to it next.

This set is ridiculously good value.
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