As a child Sibelius' Symphony No1 (the Music For Pleasure Malcom Sargent BBC Symphony Orchestra recording) was one of the first albums to grace The Wolf household and one of my Father's firm favorites (he could whistle it from beginning to end - a true wolf-whistle if ever there was one!) Sound quality has come a long way since the crackly vinyl sixties and although there are many fine renditions of this great work available Sir Mark Elder's 2009 rendition with the Halle Orchestra seems to have found a place in my heart.
There is a warmth, expansiveness and generosity in his approach, helped not a little by the original live registration, which bring's out the best in the Symphony's sublime melodic material. From the haunting entry of the baleful clarinet, luminous string cascade and ground shaking tutti of the opening Andante Ma Non Troppo; through the enchantingly subdued but romantic meanderings of the Andante (Ma Non Troppo Lento); the invigorating Scherzo and the dramatic ebb and flow of the magnificent Finale, this great conductor in never less than magisterially in charge of his materials.Bravo says I!
The folksy Third Symphony gets a splendid workout too but it is to Sir Mark's performance of the First to which we must turn for the vision of a true Sibelian.