Sibelius: Finlandia; Karelia Suite

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5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

LABELS: Decca Double Decca
ALBUM TITLE: Symphonies (Complete)
WORKS: Finlandia; Karelia Suite
PERFORMER: Philharmonia Orchestra/Vladimir Ashkenazy
CATALOGUE NO: 455 405-2; 455 402-2
Vladimir Ashkenazy’s much admired Sibelius symphony cycle from the early Eighties, when he was the Philharmonia’s principal guest conductor, has been neatly repackaged into a pair of double albums – generously filled out with other orchestral works, including a powerful performance of Sibelius’s last masterpiece, Tapiola. Compared with its obvious rival in this format, Colin Davis’s Seventies cycle with the Boston Symphony Orchestra on Philips Duo, the Ashkenazy set lacks nothing in drama, lucidity or orchestral finesse; and it has the benefit of more immediate digital recordings. Highly recommended. Anthony Burton