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Sir Colin Davis' award-winning cycle of Sibelius's symphonies reaches its conclusion with the release of Symphonies Nos 1 & 4. Sibelius was still heavily influenced by Tchaikovsky when he composed his First Symphony although there are clear signs of him developing his own highly individual style. The Fourth Symphony, completed eleven years later consitutes a dark heart at the centre of his symphonic output, written shortly after he underwent treatment for cancer.
"What makes Davis's Sibelius compelling is that he manages to have it both ways. He gives these fine players the encouragement to turn individual passages into moments of spineingling magic …But he never loses sight of the bigger objective,which is to pull together, bit by bit,the seemingly disparate themes …I doubt whether I shall ever hear an orchestra and conductor achieve a closer rapport in Sibelius" The Times
"Davis made it as taut and purposeful as the later symphonies, and as structurally cogent. It was certainly a vivid account,but Davis made details tell as much as the symphony's big tragic statements,and drew the thematic threads of the finale together with massive assurance” The Guardian
“The First is archetypal latter-day Davis, vehemently alive and unafraid to slam on the brakes in the interests of heightened expressivity. The Fourth is even more impressive in its muscular directness, contemplating barren wastelands without the sugar-coating of Romanticism.”
“…these reflective, deeply felt performances are among the most penetrating on disc.”
“Sir Colin Davis and the LSO pair the First and Fourth Symphonies as once they did for RCA. Davis cleaves to the heavier sound and interpretative subjectivity of an earlier age, fiercely engaged and, to some, a tad over-dressed. The First is archetypal latter-day Davis, vehemently alive and unafraid to slam on the brakes in the interests of heightened expressivity. Sir Colin's third commercial recording of this work is taken from live concerts, with the maestro caught humming along to the second movement's languishing Tchaikovskian melody. The Fourth is even more impressive in its muscular directness, contemplating barren wastelands without the sugar-coating of Romanticism. Sir Colin's slow movement redefines slow, here with an awesome Brucknerian weight and dignity. His finale solves the dilemma posed by Sibelius's ambiguous request for glocken by doubling up on glockenspiel and tubular bells, an unusual effect that will catch the ears of ardent Sibelians. Davis's Boston version of No 4 for Philips was always highly regarded and, although LSO Live's SACD encoding cannot transform the impactful if rather shallow sound stage of the orchestra's home base, this second remake preserves an extraordinary evening. There are full notes as throughout what has been a distinguished series, well worth its modest asking price.”
“In short, Sibelius conducting of real stature, to which the LSO respond wholeheartedly.”
10th May 2013
“Mature wisdom and beautiful playing from the LSO”
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