5 CDs for the price of 3
The first chapter in the BIS Sibelius Edition contained some of the Finnish master’s most celebrated works, his Tone Poems. In the ten volumes that have been released after that, we have presented various less known aspects of Sibelius: the composer of chamber works and piano music, the miniaturist, even as the author of an opera. With the present instalment, the 12th and penultimate, we return to a genre for which he is particularly celebrated, namely the symphonic. The Seven Symphonies are undisputed treasures of 20th-century music which have fascinated great conductors and international audiences alike. They are here presented in performances by Osmo Vänskä, described in American Record Guide as ‘the Sibelius interpreter de nos jours’, and the eminent Lahti Symphony Orchestra, whose principal conductor he was for 20 years. The team’s recordings of the symphony cycle has been described as ‘towering head and shoulders over the competition’ in the French magazine Répertoire, and on the website Classical Source as being ‘almost universally recognised as the best of the digital age’. As these recordings now are given pride of place in the Sibelius Edition, they are complemented by alternative versions and fragments which provide a fascinating background to the final versions. The most substantial of these is the original version of Symphony No.5, available only in this recording, which upon its original release in 1996 not only received a Gramophone Award for its technical qualities but also was described by the same magazine’s reviewer as ‘one of the most important and above all interesting records to have appeared for many years.’ Also unique for BIS are the recordings of the remaining supplementary material, made under the supervision of the violinist and conductor Jaakko Kuusisto and released here for the first time. Besides a number of short fragments which illustrate the decision-making process of the composer’s creative mind in detail, it also includes preliminary versions of three complete movements: the scherzos from Symphonies Nos 1 and 4, and the second movement of Symphony No.3. In the accompanying booklet (numbering 128 pages), Sibelius expert Andrew Barnett guides us through this central chapter in Sibelius’ œuvre – an occasion not to be missed!