James DePreist

Sibelius: Symphony No. 2; Symphony No. 7

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James DePreist and the Oregon Symphony's 2002 recordings of Sibelius' Second and Seventh symphonies are clean-limbed, strong-muscled performances of clean-headed and open-hearted interpretations captured in stunning, sometimes staggering sound. DePreist conducting is bright and alert with subtle inflections and a firm, long line. The Oregon's playing is hard and tough with warm woodwinds, smooth strings, and gargantuan brass. Delos' sound is as good as digital sound can get with an amazing sense of reality and an overwhelming impact.

All that said, however, DePreist and the Oregon's performances are no more than adequate in comparison to the great performances of the past. Compared with recordings by Barbirolli, Beecham, and Berglund; or Kamu, Karajan, and Koussevitzky; or Saraste, Segerstam, and Vanska, DePreist's is merely acceptable. And compared to the London Symphony and the Royal Philharmonic; or the Berlin Philharmonic and the Boston Symphony; or the Danish Radio Symphony, the Finnish Radio Symphony, or the Lahti Symphony, the Oregon's playing is merely acceptable. Even Delos' digital sound is merely agreeable compared with EMI or Deutsche Grammophon's lush stereo sound. A fine pair of performances and well worth hearing if you've already heard a dozen other performances of the same works.

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