The first in a new Naxos series, this disc features Pietari Inkinen, music director of the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, in what will hopefully be a complete survey of the Sibelius symphonies. New Zealand is not likely the location that most listeners might consider when seeking recordings of Finnish music, but Finnish-born Inkinen elevates his orchestra to a level of consistency, depth, and power that few orchestras -- Finish or otherwise -- have achieved in recording these symphonies. Vol. 1 begins with the First Symphony, likely one of Sibelius' two most frequently performed symphonies. Every section of the orchestra produces a similarly cohesive, balanced sound; a flawless technical execution; and vibrant, accurate articulations. When combined as a whole, the First Symphony is treated to a level of exuberance, intensity, drive seldom heard. Even in the most densely scored, forte passages, Inkinen maintains meticulous control over dynamics, allowing every line to be clearly heard. The same focus and insight are brought to the less common Third Symphony, where Inkinen again finesses every phrase and fills the performance with nuance and careful attention to detail. If this first installment is a sign of things to come, listeners will find themselves at the beginning of a must-have survey of these great, lush Romantic symphonies. Naxos' sound is rich and vibrant, further enhancing the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra's already stunning sound quality.
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AllMusic Review by Mike D. Brownell
|Symphony No. 1 in E minor, Op. 39|
|Symphony No. 3 in C major, Op. 52|