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BIS present a new recording of Jean Sibelius’s Symphonies 2 and 5 from the Minnesota Orchestra and their Finnish conductor Osmo Vänskä.
Beginning in the early 1990s, seminal recordings with Vänskä and the Lahti Symphony Orchestra of tone poems and the seven symphonies stood at the forefront of a new interpretative approach to the composer’s music.
Vänskä’s recordings of Sibelius over the past 20 years form the backbone of the label’s newly completed Sibelius Edition.
This disc with the Minnesota Orchestra follows an acclaimed cycle of Beethoven’s symphonies, and most recently a recording of Bruckner’s Fourth (‘Romantic’) Symphony.
The Sibelius expert Robert Layton presents the Second Symphony as ‘the symphony by which many music lovers find their way to Sibelius’, and quotes the composer in a comment about symphonic form: ‘a river with innumerable tributaries feeding it before it broadens majestically and flows into the sea’.
Jean Sibelius: Symphony No. 2 in D major, Op. 43
II. Tempo andante, ma rubato
IV. Finale: Allegro moderato
Jean Sibelius: Symphony No. 5 in E flat major, Op. 82
I. Tempo molto moderato - Allegro moderato
II. Andante mosso, quasi allegretto
III. Allegro molto - Largamente assai
18th February 2012
“The sheer polish of the Minnesotans is a source of pleasure, but it was the voyage-of-discovery energy and temperament that made Vänskä’s work in Lahti so distinctive, defining a new age of Sibelius interpretation. Vänskä is now older: his Sibelius has become smoother and, yes, more conventional.”
“So how do Nos 2 & 5 compare with their Lahti equivalents? They are every bit as compelling and intelligently realised...Vanska handles the opening movement's compound structure even better than before and the finale is just right, with irresistable forward momentum...Thore Brinkmann's superb sound reproduces with exceptional clarity every nuance of a finely balanced orchestral picture”
“[the Minnesota's] sound is huge and polished with rich strings, flaring brass and mellow winds, clearly recorded in first-rate SACD surround sound...[the Fifth] is fairly speedy, but well-paced and imaginatively phrased. The first movement's hollowed-out string passages beneath upfront woodwind make for typically atmospheric Vanska, while the concluding accelerations are obvious but impressive.”
22nd March 2012
“Under Vänskä's leadership, the Minnesota Orchestra has moved into the top echelon of US bands. But these symphonies need a leaner, less self-regarding sound, while Vänskä's performances seem to have broadened and coarsened, too. There are some striking passages”