Top positive review
121 people found this helpful
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.