Sibelius: Violin Concerto; Symphony No. 2

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5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

COMPOSERS: Sibelius
LABELS: RCA Victor Red Seal
WORKS: Violin Concerto; Symphony No. 2
PERFORMER: Vladimir Spivakov (violin)St Petersburg PO/Yuri Temirkanov
CATALOGUE NO: 09026 61701 2
Spivakov’s Sibelius is poised and poetic. Loftily in tune with the music’s fantasy and drama, he unfolds its events with imposing authority and a nobility of tone and sound. Orchestrally, too (more so than in the symphony, a brash reading), the playing is distinguished. Temirkanov may not be so physically charged as Segerstam on Ondine but he brings out many valid points.

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The Revelation catalogue boasts access to over 400,000 tapes and ‘seventy years’ worth of repressed Russian recordings’. Potentially, of course, an intriguing cultural inheritance, yet, in truth, repressed or simply archived? Can this clutch of concertos from a concert given on 12 April 1969 by such favourites of the Soviet establishment as Oistrakh junior and Rozhdestvensky really have been a cause for concern? And if so, why? The performances are nothing special, a breathless, scrappy, occasionally mechanistic Sibelius, a routine Glazunov and a faceless Schumann.

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The remastering and packaging is slipshod. Why the abrupt fade-outs of applause and ambience? Why such sketchy liner notes? Martin Furber tells us nothing about occasion or performers, little about the works, and misrepresents the facts. It was Tovey who likened the finale of the Sibelius to ‘a polonaise for polar bears’, not the composer. Ates Orga