Sibelius: Symphony No. 2 in D; Symphony No. 6 in D minor

Our rating 
5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

COMPOSERS: Sibelius
LABELS: RCA Victor Red Seal
WORKS: Symphony No. 2 in D; Symphony No. 6 in D minor
PERFORMER: LSO/Colin Davis
CATALOGUE NO: 09026 68218 2 DDD
This second instalment of Davis’s new Sibelius cycle is purest gold. Hardly a phrase in these performances passes without new light being shed on it, and yet there is a strong feeling of spontaneity throughout. Davis’s readings are far from conventional; he often focuses on the darker sides of these symphonies, bringing out rarely heard depths in the Second and adding a fascinating new dimension to the Sixth. In both, he projects a strong sense of narrative and in the Second Symphony guides the argument toward the finale with overwhelming results – the appearance of the big tune gains immeasurably from a determined lack of sensationalism. Still more revealing is the finale of the Sixth: along with the expected ‘pastoral’ reflection he finds more than a hint of menace.

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Davis is admirably served by the LSO. The strings respond to the detail of his interpretation with superb flexibility, and wind and brass groups are richly voiced. There is a wealth of magically observed orchestral detail, with the start of the slow movement of the Second Symphony – a polar-bear growl from the timpani and singing pizzicato – being especially memorable. These performances command attention and will satisfy listeners for many years to come. Jan Smaczny