Various Artists

The Essential Sibelius [Box Set]

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This gargantuan 15-disc set is immodestly billed as The Essential Sibelius, and with the inclusion of all the symphonies, most of the tone poems, much of incidental music, many of the songs, plenty of the chamber music, lots of the choral music, and tons of the piano music, it would be hard to argue that the billing isn't accurate. Of course, some Sibelius cognoscenti may wonder where the incidental music for Belshazzar's Feast, with its haunting setting of "By the Waters of Babylon," is, while others may question the need for so much of the composer's very early works, but few would argue that BIS hasn't done a terrific job of living up to its extravagant claim. Nor would many assert that BIS' choice of performers isn't for the most part first rate. Osmo Vänskä and the Lahti Symphony's recording of the symphonies and tone poems are as good as it gets in this world, as are Anne Sofie von Otter with Bengt Forsberg's and Monica Groop with Love Derwinger's recordings of the songs. Some might reasonably aver that while Neeme Järvi and the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra's performances of the incidental music and the Karelia Suite are quite entertaining, they are entirely superficial, and that while the Tempera Quartet is wonderfully sympathetic in its interpretation of the D minor String Quartet, there are more polished performances of the work available. Still, this set does contain all the music that anyone but the most enthusiastic Sibelius fan needs and thus provides a wonderful point of reference for the great Finnish composer's music. BIS' digital sound is consistently clean, clear, and crisp.

Track Listing - Disc 11

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1
2:01
2
2:30
3
2:40
4
1:22
5
3:04
6
2:25
7
2:47
8
1:37
9
2:01
10
4:36
11
3:57
12
3:28
13
3:50
14
2:54
15
2:16
16
2:01
17
3:17
18
3:17
19
2:11
20
3:04
21
3:38
22
3:14
23
2:56
24
1:16
25
2:11
26
1:51
27
2:00
28
2:05
29
2:57
30
2:01
blue highlight denotes track pick