Old-timers will remember Eugen Jochum as a top-drawer Bruckner conductor. Real old-timers will remember Eugen Jochum as a mid-level Beethoven, Brahms, and Wagner conductor. But only very old-timers will remember that Eugen Jochum also tried his hand at other composers and that way back in 1955, Deutsche Grammophon recorded him leading the Bayerischen Rundfunks Sinfonie-orchester in performance of works by, of all composers, Sibelius. If you think the heroic pantheism of the great Finnish modernist seems worlds away from the nostalgic religiosity of Bruckner, wait until you hear Jochum's Sibelius. As reissued on this "The Legendary Deutsche Grammophon Sound of the 1950s" release along with preludes from a couple of Wagner's operas, Jochum's Sibelius is unlike anybody else's Sibelius. The hard-edged modernist Sibelius of the Finns, the passionately late Romantic Sibelius of the English, even the colorfully nationalist Sibelius of the Germans is not Jochum's Sibelius. Jochum's Sibelius is immensely powerful, intensely dramatic, and, above all, overwhelmingly heroic. Jochum's Der Sturm (The Tempest) is a towering depiction of nature at its most terrifying, and his Die Okeaniden (The Oceanides) is a monumental image of the sea at its most frightening. Best yet, Jochum's Nachtlicher Ritt und Sonnenaufgang (Night Ride & Sunrise) begins in darkest, most fuliginous night and closes in radiant, most glorious day. Jochum's pair of preludes from Acts I and III of Lohengrin with the Berlin Philharmonic are luminous and thrilling and his prelude and Karfreitagszauber (Good Friday Spell) from Parsifal, also with the Bavarian Radio Orchestra, are heartfelt and heartwarming. But, for new listeners and old-timers, the real reason to hear this disc will be Jochum's Sibelius. It may not be everyone's idea of great Sibelius, but there is no denying that it is entirely distinctive Sibelius.
AllMusic Review by James Leonard
|Lohengrin, opera, WWV 75|
|Parsifal, opera, WWV 111|