John Storgårds / BBC Philharmonic Orchestra

Sibelius: Complete Symphonies; 3 Late Fragments

  • AllMusic Rating
    9
  • User Ratings (0)
  • Your Rating

AllMusic Review by

With this 2014 Chandos box set of the symphonies of Jean Sibelius, John Storgårds joins the relatively small company of modern conductors who have recorded the full cycle, and his set as a whole is persuasive, despite some unusual choices. As a Finnish conductor with a strong incentive to interpret these works faithfully, Storgårds is quite true to Sibelius' intentions, even though the sound of the BBC Philharmonic is not as lush or as homogenous as might be expected. Instead, Storgårds emphasizes brisk tempos and distinct timbres, and he is careful to thin out textures for greater clarity of the internal counterpoint and the pungency of the dissonances. The Symphony No. 1 and the Symphony No. 2, long performed with over-ripe sonorities and exaggerated Romantic expressions, don't suffer terribly from this treatment, though some listeners may be put off by Storgårds' updated, leaner renditions. However, from the Symphony No. 3 on through the Symphony No. 7, the paring down works quite well, and the intensity of Sibelius' modern works is enhanced. Along with the seven symphonies, Storgårds presents the Three Late Fragments, as transcribed by Timo Virtanen, purportedly intended for an eighth symphony that was either lost or destroyed, or it never advanced beyond initial sketches. These snippets are tantalizing hints of what was on Sibelius' mind, probably in the 1930s, but because there's no context to place them in, they are mere curiosities.

Track Listing - Disc 1

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
Symphony No. 1 in E minor, Op. 39
1 11:22
2 9:25
3 5:07
4 12:51
Symphony No. 4 in A minor, Op. 63
5 9:21
6 5:04
7 10:57 Amazon
8 9:34 Amazon
9 1:08
10 0:15
Fragment, HUL 1327
11 1:15 Amazon

Track Listing - Disc 2

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
Symphony No. 2 in D major, Op. 43
1 10:15
2 15:10
3 6:06
4 14:25
Symphony No. 5 in E flat major, Op. 82
5 14:10
6 8:44
7 9:42

Track Listing - Disc 3

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
Symphony No. 3 in C major, Op. 52
1 10:23 Amazon
2 9:52
3 8:51
Symphony No. 6 in D minor, Op. 104
4 8:53
5 5:29
6 3:44 Amazon
7 10:13
Symphony No. 7 in C major, Op. 105
8 9:40
9 2:52 Amazon
10 4:03 Amazon
11 5:37
blue highlight denotes track pick