Nielsen/Sibelius: Symphony No. 4 (Inextinguishable); Tapiola

Our rating 
3.0 out of 5 star rating 3.0

COMPOSERS: Nielsen/Sibelius
LABELS: DG Masters
WORKS: Symphony No. 4 (Inextinguishable); Tapiola
PERFORMER: Berlin PO/Herbert von Karajan
CATALOGUE NO: 445 518-2 DDD (1982/84)
Scything Berlin Philharmonic strings initially deafen the ear to Karajan’s underlying lumpishness in this earthbound Inextinguishable; it takes the first movement’s big tune to make it ponderously clear. Great sounds, then, but little overall mobility; and at a point I was keenly anticipating – that moment just before the finale when a trilling string crescendo bursts into a hail of semiquaver fire – there’s a disastrous, clunking edit (track 3, 11:12). Remastering has helped to naturalise what was originally a typically synthetic mid-Eighties DG recording, though the bass can be boomy. Sibelius’s seething forest-mystery Tapiola keeps a better distance, though here too Karajan can be unsupple when changing gear. David Nice