Sibelius: Karelia Suite; Finlandia; Tapiola; Valse triste; The Oceanides

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COMPOSERS: Sibelius
LABELS: RCARed Seal
WORKS: Karelia Suite; Finlandia; Tapiola; Valse triste; The Oceanides
PERFORMER: LSO/Colin Davis
CATALOGUE NO: 09026 68770 2
Davis and the LSO now turn from the Sibelius symphonies to the tone poems, with hardly less impressive results. His Tapiola is chilling and terrifying (as was his earlier Boston recording), but interest naturally centres on Night Ride and Sunrise and The Oceanides, neither of which he has recorded before. His account of The Oceanides is quite magical, evoking the spirit of this extraordinary score to perfection. It is quite simply the finest since Beecham. Night Ride and Sunrise is superbly paced and the difficult transition from the trochaic ride to the tranquillity and then grandeur of dawn impressively handled. First-rate recording, too. Osmo Vänskä’s is a Sibelius with a difference. He gives us scrupulously prepared performances of the original scores for Adolf Paul’s play King Christian II and Bertel Gripenberg’s Swedish translation of Maeterlinck’s Pelléas et Mélisande. In King Christian we have the four movements Sibelius composed for the February 1898 production and the remaining three he added later that summer. Sibelius rescored and rearranged five numbers to form the familiar suite. The differences both in scoring and text are unfailingly illuminating. The minuet derives from an earlier piece and the musette is solely for wind. With the case of Pelléas, the changes are fewer, though we do have an additional number which Sibelius omitted from the suite. The three numbers of the Karelia Suite are extracted from the earlier CD of the complete Karelia (BIS CD-915), the second movement being much longer and for baritone rather than the familiar cor anglais of the revised suite. Eloquent playing and exemplary sound. Robert Layton

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