Sibelius: Symphony No. 3; Belshazzar’s Feast Suite; King Christian II Suite

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COMPOSERS: Sibelius
LABELS: RCA
WORKS: Symphony No. 3; Belshazzar’s Feast Suite; King Christian II Suite
PERFORMER: Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra/Jukka-Pekka Saraste
CATALOGUE NO: 09026 60434 2 DDD
This team has recorded all the Sibelius symphonies. Not to such acclaim as Ashkehazy, but the product is wholly Finnish and offers insights on that account.

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A booming acoustic guarantees instant epic scenery. But grand, glowing effects are also achieved by more old-fashioned means in a performance of dark vigour in which low-pitched strings shoulder the busy passagework with scrupulous articulation. The warm second movement is tenderly suspended in the resonant atmosphere.

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The Belshazzar’s Feast Suite is like a miniature Sheherezade. The music for Adolf Paul’s play King Christian II includes the famous coy Grieg-like Musette. The score as a whole is balletic and rather faded. Here the reverberant ambience lends the bass a weight beyond the significance of what it plays. Meredith Oakes