Okko Kamu / Lahti Symphony Orchestra

Sibelius: The Symphonies

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Okku Kamu's complete set of the 7 symphonies of Jean Sibelius on BIS presents an exceptionally clear and coherent survey of these works, which his few early recordings do not permit. Kamu's performances with the Lahti Symphony Orchestra reveal a consistent vision and a thorough understanding of Sibelius' symphonic development, while his older recordings of the Symphony No. 2 in D major with the Berlin Philharmonic and the Symphony No. 7 in C major with the Copenhagen Philharmonic Orchestra give only glimpses. In these super audio recordings, made between 2012 and 2014, Kamu's crisp and unsentimental interpretations have a directness that sometimes seems hard and raw, instead of the lush and overripe qualities that one finds in more romantic readings. Even the Symphony No. 2, that sentimental warhorse, has shed its customary richness and comes across here as more rugged and quirky. Yet the most striking examples of Kamu's dry-eyed approach are found in the grim Symphony No. 4 in A minor, the epic Symphony No. 5 in E flat major, and the refined, neo-Classical Symphony No. 6 in D minor, which offer a clarity and objectivity that highlight the music's distinctive characteristics, and reveal Sibelius' underlying organic concepts. The three SACDs are packaged in paper sleeves and housed in a trimline box with a booklet, but don't be deceived by the austere appearance of this set, because the music it contains is extraordinary.

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