Despite the album art headlining the violin concerto, for me the most successful and enjoyable performance on this disc was the Karelia Suite - a work I was lucky to hear Segerstam conduct in London's Festival Hall with I think the Philharmonia. Certainly it is a work with its bouncy rhythms that suits his personality perfectly: a portly but still nimble Brahmsian figure on the podium just turning to the audience in the last movement, folding his arms and letting the players get on with it! Immense fun! Every particle of that fun, plus some subtlety, comes through on this disc. Perhaps not as brisk and efficient or exciting as either Sargent or Gibson, but nevertheless highly enjoyable.
The concerto performance is not as taut or actually (given a Strad was involved) as beautiful or ravishing in tone as many other recordings. The violinist may yet get there, but at the moment he cannot squeeze the nth amount of his instrument, or impart the sheer scale and power of this monumental concerto, to enter the top league. Overall this is quite a slow performance too. On a scale of 1-10 the sound quality is about 7.
It does not shake my conviction that the 1960 Spivakovsky 35mm super analogue record with Hannikainen and the LSO (despite some age related wow issues in the first 3 or 5 seconds of the masters which are to be solved by the next generation of 35mm restored playback machines fitted with laser controlled drives) is better played and sounds better too. The Vanguard reissue on standard CD but in 20 Bit/SBM re-mastering couples it with an equally satisfying Tchaikovsky with similar virtues. (EVC 9035)
But remember the Sibelius Concerto played by Spivakovsky and coupled with Tapiola is also available in stunning audiophile sound quality on a Classic DVD-Audio disc. (HDAD 2030) Now at 24/192 and 24/96 as well as a standard CD disc thrown in for good luck....that leaves the Ondine very far behind.
This is a beautiful recording, wonderfully played - whilst not a particular fan of Belshazzar's Feast I can still enjoy the recording - but the Sibelius is just beautiful - sit back, listen and enjoy a beautiful rendition.