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  Exton -
  Sibelius: Symphonies Nos. 1 & 3 - Ashkenazy
  Sibelius: Symphony No. 1 in E minor Op. 39, Symphony No. 3 in C major Op. 52, Rakastava Op. 14

Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra
Vladimir Ashkenazy (conductor)
Track listing:
  Classical - Orchestral
Recording type:
Recording info:

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Related titles: 3

Reviews: 3

Site review by Geohominid June 9, 2008
Performance:   Sonics:    
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Review by Daland April 29, 2007 (10 of 12 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:  
A first-class recording. I have always admired Ashkenazy as an interpreter of Sibelius although his approach may be less idiomatic than that of other conductors (e.g. Davis or Berglund). He emphasizes the warmth and colour of these scores rather than the chilling and enigmatic quality associated with much of the composer's music. The Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra, on peak form here, is apparently well versed in this kind of repertoire. The DSD recording, made in the Stockholm Concert Hall, allows the massed strings and the cutting brass to come fully into their own in what are arguably Sibelius' most romantic symphonies. This is one of the best-sounding Exton recordings I have heard so far. The sound is warm and spacious, with the rear channels given more prominence than usual.

Ashkenazy's tempi are well-judged and he keeps the music at a high level of intensity throughout. It seems that his approach to Sibelius has not changed much since he recorded the whole cycle for Decca with the Philharmonia Orchestra. There is an irresistible forward movement, but also a certain ruggedness. Apart from the First and Third Symphonies the multi-channel disc includes the Rakastava Suite, Op. 14, a work that does not strike me as particulary memorable.

In both sonic and interpretative terms, this recording can be warmly recommended. A complete cycle of the symphonies would be very desirable, preferably in combination with some of the tone-poems not yet represented on SACD.

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Review by JJ July 1, 2008 (4 of 6 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:    
Composed in 1899, Jean Sibelius’ first symphony is a work by a young man of thirty-four. Still classic in style, the score also shows “very personal liberties that are fully original: the work, impetuous, is marked by romantic outbursts throughout, with its frequent changes of atmosphere, its tonal ruptures that will characterize Sibelius’ art”, states musicologist François-René Tranchefort. The work was first performed in Helsinki, under the composer’s direction, the same year it was written. Symphony N°3 in C major Op. 52, first performed in 1907, again in Helsinki and again under the composer’s baton, is dedicated to Sibelius’ English colleague, Granville Bantock. It abandons all romantic excess and instead favors a serenity rich in color. “An impression of light and clarity prevail here…, one inhales a perfume of halcyon idyll,” emphasizes Marc Vignal. Insofar as the orchestral suite “Rakastava” Op. 14, it is an early work first composed for male chorus. It has here been transcribed for string orchestra. Vladimir Ashkenazy has never stopped examining Sibelius’ music, and this time the force of reflection has paid off. This recording of Symphonies N°1 and N°3 is a small miracle of balance, invention and fresh air. All is bolstered by a perfect sense of color. In pure DSD, the recording fully restitutes the sound of the Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra’s musicians for an even more pleasurable experience. A splendor!

Jean-Jacques Millo
Translation Lawrence Schulman

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Works: 3  

Jean Sibelius - Rakastava, Op. 14
Jean Sibelius - Symphony No. 1 in E minor, Op. 39
Jean Sibelius - Symphony No. 3 in C major, Op. 52