Mariss Jansons / Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra

Sibelius: Symphonies 1, 2, 3 & 5

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So clean they squeak, and so clear they're almost invisible, these early 90s recordings of Sibelius' First, Second, Third and Fifth Symphonies with Mariss Jansons and the Oslo Philharmonic are no more than tolerable. As was true with the recordings of Tchaikovsky's symphonies by the same artists, these performances may delight listeners who prefer their Romantics dry-eyed and straight-forward. Anyone looking for the First's dark tragedy, the Second's mighty heroism, the Third's unstoppable energy, and the Fifth's overwhelming intensity, though, will not find those qualities here. Jansons' readings are well-controlled and thoroughly thought through, and the Norwegian orchestra's playing is crisp, bright, and colorful. But there is so much more to Sibelius' music, and so many recordings that deliver it, that it is hard to recommend these performances as anything more than alternative points of view, and not particularly interesting alternative points of view, either. EMI's digital sound is transparent but not especially immediate.

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