Sibelius: The Tempest Suite No. 1; The Tempest Suite No. 2; Kuolema; King Christian II Suite; Scènes historiques Suite No. 1; Scènes historiques Suite No. 2; Swanwhite Suite; Scaramouche

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COMPOSERS: Sibelius
LABELS: Decca Double Decca
WORKS: The Tempest Suite No. 1; The Tempest Suite No. 2; Kuolema; King Christian II Suite; Scènes historiques Suite No. 1; Scènes historiques Suite No. 2; Swanwhite Suite; Scaramouche
PERFORMER: Hungarian State SO/Jussi Jalas
CATALOGUE NO: 448 267-2 ADD (1974-76)
The latest Sibelius reissue largely features his incidental music (1898-1926), excluding the very fine Pelleas and Melisande. Some familiar tunes pass by – ‘Valse triste’ from Kuolema, for instance, and curious foreshadowings of the Fifth Symphony Andante in ‘The Harp’ from Swanwhite – but most will be new to listeners. Woefully, the performances are dead, the (old Hungarian communist) orchestral playing tentative, the analogue-hiss recording close and dry without harmonic resonance or ambience – the worst kind of enclosed theatre pit sound. That Shakespeare’s Tempest can be reduced to 36 unpleasant minutes of apparent banality is distressing. Odd for a veteran conductor who was Sibelius’s son-in-law. Ates Orga

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