Colin Davis

Sibelius: Symphonies Nos. 3 & 7

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Through his legendary Sibelius recordings -- with the Boston Symphony Orchestra in the 1970s for Philips and with the London Symphony Orchestra in the 1990s for RCA -- Sir Colin Davis established his reputation as a leading authority on the composer, particularly in the seven symphonies. In light of those recordings, which are both strongly recommended as sets to own, one might ask how this live 2003 disc can offer anything new. To the extent that these concert performances convey spontaneity, excitement, and vitality, and an immediate sense of the music moving in real time, this CD may be regarded as a fine supplement to the older recordings, but not a substitute. The performances of the exuberant Symphony No. 3 and the elegiac Symphony No. 7 are coherently realized and vibrant, and the London Symphony Orchestra has great presence in the Barbican's resonant acoustic. Using the Direct Stream Digital recording system, LSO Live captures Davis and the orchestra with directness, clarity, and warmth, with almost no distracting background noises. So if this recording is the first acquaintance one makes with Davis' Sibelius, then it will serve as an enjoyable introduction. But the superb studio recordings cited above are still preferred for their greater depth and impact.

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