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.
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