Search - Jean Sibelius, Paavo Berglund, Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra :: Sibelius: The Complete Symphonies & Tone Poems [Box Set]

Sibelius: The Complete Symphonies & Tone Poems [Box Set]
Jean Sibelius, Paavo Berglund, Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra
Sibelius: The Complete Symphonies & Tone Poems [Box Set]
Genre: Classical
  •  Track Listings (8) - Disc #1
  •  Track Listings (7) - Disc #2
  •  Track Listings (7) - Disc #3
  •  Track Listings (6) - Disc #4
  •  Track Listings (5) - Disc #5
  •  Track Listings (8) - Disc #6
  •  Track Listings (9) - Disc #7
  •  Track Listings (18) - Disc #8


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CD Reviews

A terrific and near-perfect set
Josef Krebs | Seattle | 04/05/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)

"This release couples Berglund's classic Bournemouth recordings of the Kullervo Symphony and a host of tone poems with his most recent cycle of the Symphonies. The Bournemouth recordings are legendary, especially the Kullervo, which belongs in every classical music library. There is a real warmth to these readings, which charms me into letting the minor flaws in playing pass. The sound is pretty good, though slightly muddy at times (particularly in Tapiola), and the selections have been excellently remastered.The Symphonies, recorded with the Helsinki Philharmonic in superb digital sound, are a real peak in the discography. Berglund doesn't play his Sibelius lukewarm; his readings are sharp, neo-classical and very powerful. You won't confuse these recordings with those of Colin Davis to be sure. Very comparable to Maazel's earlier readings with the Vienna Philharmonic, but with less over-dramatization. His First, Second, Third, Sixth and Seventh are as good as any, and his reading of the Fourth, while rather bleak for my taste (I like the idea of some kind of softening at the end) is a coherent vision, almost harsh in it's execution.I really like Maazel's Pittsburgh Fifth, and Berglund's recording in no way comes close to Maazel's splendor or power as a total conception. But, Berglund's middle movement is the best I've heard by far; the obsessively repeated melody seems to weave in and out of the orchestral fabric very seductively. Berglund's knack for architecture is spot on here.All in all a wonderful set. An easy first choice for newcomers to Sibelius and a necessary addition for confirmed fans."
A must for Sibelius lovers
Joshua Kaufman | Cincinnati, OH | 01/07/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Jean Sibelius is one of those composers who I feel that even on his off days he did well. While I certainly can't say I enjoy all of his music enough to buy (Sacaramouche for instance), most of his music is highly pleasureful. All of the pieces on this set, conducted by Paavo Berglund, save maybe one or two, are part of the later catagory.

This set consists of most of Sibelius's major orchestral music, with the notible exceptions of Night Ride and Subrise, the first two sections of the Lemmenkainen Suite, and the Violin Concerto. It also contains such rarities as Origin of Fire, Our Own Land, and excepts from Swan White.
Berglund, I believe, was the first to fully record a complete cycle of Sibelius symphonies. The recordings here are not from his first set (which I have not heard), but the second cycle recorded in the mid-80s. The symphonies and two canatas mentioned above are recorded in digital, while the rest is analog. It's all in very good sound, though not perfect. That they wanted to keep the D and A recodings on seperate discs is the only possible reason I can see for why they left out the Violin Concerto (there's plenty of room on disc 4).
Now of course, contents are one thing, but what really matters is performance. And suffice it to say, they for the most part shine. This has easily the finest Symphony 1 I've heard, and the finale of Symphony 5 (truly one of the greatest works of the 20th century) shines with brillance. Symphony 3 makes its mark nicely, and Symphony 2, while perhaps a bit on the fast side, is certainly up to par. The only disappointment is Symphony 7, which falls totally flat compared to Davis/BSO.
The two cantatas are wonderful rarities, but its disc 5 where the choral aspect is full played out -- Kullervo. If you've never heard this piece, it's a 75 minute long programatic symphony (to use to term losely) with many ups and downs. This was the first ever recording, and most say it hasn't been topped.
The final three discs contain shorter works. Especially noteable are the absolutely beautiful Serenade #2 for Violin and Orchestra, the hauntingly lovely Luonnotar, a very rousing version of Lemminkainen's Return, and a passionate Pelleas and Mellsande.
Of course, it's almost impossible to have this big a set without some disapointments. Beyond the aformentioned Symphony 7, there's also not overly convincing Finlandia, and a WAY too slow Karelia Intermezzo. Thankfully, the rest of the set makes up for it. It's a great deal at only about $7 a disc retail, and if you're like me, on you'll keep coming back to."
Beautiful and comprehensive compilation of Sibelius works
Daniel W. Fowler | Austin TX | 09/28/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)

"For me, this has been the year of Sibelius. Previously, I had listened to (and enjoyed) Finlandia. I also had a couple of the symphonies but hadn't listened too them but once or twice. After listening to Finlandia again, I decided to seek out more SIbelius to sample. After some searching through reviews, I settled upon this compilation of works because it offered a large variety of Sibelius and seemed to be well-received. I have been very happy with this purchase! Not only have I spent countless hours listening to each of the 8 disks in this set, the enjoyment of the music has led me to many other wonderful performances of Sibelius by other worthy conductors such as Ashkenazy and Vanska. Still, this boxed set will always be fondly remembered as the one that introduced me to the wonders of so many of these pieces.

I was immediately captured by the haunting clarinet solo that begins the first symphony. All of the symphonies, performed by the Helsinki Orchestra, are recorded in very clear digital sound -- so the solo and the pecussion accompanyment were perfectly captured. I was hooked by the first symphony, but all of the symphonies are presented clearly and with outstanding interpretations. The Helsinki Philharmonic has always had a strong affiliation with Sibelius's music, and Paavo Berglund is a renowned Sibelius conductor who has recorded three separate symphony cycles (once with the Bournemouth Symphony orchestra, the 2nd time with these recordings, and a third time with the Chamber Orchestra of Europe). The commitment felt by the conductor and orchestra comes through in these performances.

In addition to the complete symphony cycle, there are a number of other treasures. A fine version of Finlandia is accompanied by a number of truly delightful tone poems such as Tapiola, the haunting Swan of Tuonela and Lemminkainen's Return (from the Lemminkainen Suite). These tone poems were inspired by the Finnish Kalevala. Other tone poems such as the Oceanides and Spring Song were inspired by Sibelius's love of nature. All receive strong performances by Berglund conducting the Bournemouth Symphony (in analog sound that is still quite good). The violin serenades (especially no. 2) were unexpected delights. The version of Kullervo is magnificent, as is the singing in Luonnotar and Oma maa. This set is a treasure trove of Sibelius treats!"