Only the most devoted Sibelius fans are likely to be interested in this five-disc set of his complete works for violin and piano, and even they may find it rough going listening to every track. It takes until the last five minutes of the second disc before the program progresses to works bearing an opus number, and the last disc ends with three appendixes of fragments and inconsequential previously unrecorded works. Even the works with opus numbers are generally light in tone and slight in content, and none are among the composer's finest works. The two most substantial pieces are transcriptions, one the original version of the violin concerto and the other the revised final version of the same work.
There is, however, much music that deserves a hearing. The two early sonatas and suites are ardent works of youthful Romanticism, and while most of the late works were written in the depths of the First World War primarily to raise money, they are never less than charming and well-crafted, with occasional touches that are a reminder of the composer's mastery of melody. The violin concerto transcriptions are especially effective, giving the violinist plenty of room for display and granting the pianist a more substantial part in the proceedings. In every case, BIS has chosen excellent players, particularly the fiery Madoka Sato for the flamboyant concertos, and as always, the digital sound is so vivid the musicians sound like they could be in the room with the listener.