Historical Sibelius from Warner Classics

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Lance
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Historical Sibelius from Warner Classics

Post by Lance » Wed Nov 04, 2015 12:15 am

http://media.mdt.co.uk/media/catalog/pr ... 053179.jpg

Here's a set that I am most happy to see released. Apparently this was in the EMI "hopper," to be released by them, but Warner continued the project. Here's the blurb:

SIBELIUS Historical Recordings and Rarities 1928-1948

Dating from the years between 1928 and 1948, the recordings in this collection were all made during the lifetime of Jean Sibelius (1865-1957). They can be credited with playing a substantial role in propagating his works around the world and in cementing his international reputation as one of the towering figures of 20th century music.

The seven CDs constitute a wide-ranging survey of the composer’s music. Rightly, the seven symphonies are at the heart of the collection. Symphonies Nos 1, 2, 3 and 5 are conducted by the Finn Robert Kajanus, whom Sibelius described in 1934 as “the best conductor my music ever had … he worked and studied and sought unceasingly to play my works exactly as I wanted them to sound.” Kajanus was Sibelius’ personal choice for the recordings of symphonies Nos 1 and 2, made in London in 1930 with the Orchestra of the Royal Philharmonic Society, and which were followed by the recordings of Nos 3 and 5 in 1932.

Symphony No 4 is conducted by Sir Thomas Beecham (with the London Philharmonic Orchestra in 1937), while Symphony No 7 is conducted by Serge Koussevitzky (a live recording with the BBC Symphony in London 1933). After Kajanus died in 1933, Sibelius said: “Of the men who play my music today, and whose performances I have heard, I prefer Beecham and Koussevitzky. Of Koussevitzky I have heard only the Seventh Symphony records published by the Sibelius Society, but with those I am entirely delighted. Beecham’s performances have come to me by wireless [radio], and they are superb. He is a remarkable man. It gives me the deepest pleasure and satisfaction to see how great an interest he takes in my music and to know that it is he who is playing so much of music to the British public.” Both Beecham and Koussevitzky were powerful advocates of the composer’s music – Beecham in the UK and on his international tours, Koussevitzky in the US as chief conductor of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, a post he held for 25 years.

Symphony No 6 is conducted by Georg Schneevoigt – a Finn and a close friend of Sibelius, who also leads the performance of the tone poem Luonnotar, which features the soprano Helmi Liukkonen; drawing like the majority of Sibelius’ tone poems on the Finnish national epic, the Kalevala, it is a stunning piece that describes the creation of the world.

In addition to these works, this box offers much more of the ‘essential Sibelius’: the Violin Concerto, to which Jascha Heifetz (conducted by Beecham) brings his characteristic fusion of fire and ice; eight more of the tone poems, including Finlandia, which famously gave expression to Finland’s defiance of Russian domination at the time of its composition (1899); movements from the Karelia Suite; Valse Triste and extracts from his music for Maeterlinck’s play Pelléas et Mélisande.

Complementing these are a number of lesser-known works, such as the incidental music to Hjalmar Procopé’s play Belshazzar’s Feast, the string quartet “Voces intimae” and several small-scale pieces for piano, violin, cello and voice.

Other performers featured in the box include: the Budapest String Quartet, the soprano Auliki Rautavaara, the violinist Emil Telmányi, the pianists Eileen Joyce and Gerald Moore and the Orchestra of the Royal Philharmonic Society, the London Symphony Orchestra, London Philharmonic Orchestra, BBC Symphony Orchestra, Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra, Finnish Radio Orchestra and Stockholm Opera House Orchestra.

—One other point the writer did not include is the fact that Sibelius himself conducts his Andante festivo (1924), leading the Finnish Radio Orchestra. There are also songs sung by Marian Anderson with Kosti Vehanen at the piano.

A recap of the symphonies/conductors:

1/2 - Orchestra of the Royal Philharmonic Society, Robert Kajanus, conductor
3/5 - London Symphony Orchestra, Robert Kajanus, conductor
4 - London Philharmonic Orchstra, Sir Thomas Beecham, conducto
6 - Helsinki Philharmonic Orcheestra, George Schnéevoigt, conductor
7 - BBC Symphony Orchestra, Serge Koussevitzky, conductor

The set is chock full of many Sibelius-composed items, well worth a look by his followers. Full credit is given in the booklet to transfer engineer Anthony Griffith (1915-2005) of EMI who made many of the original transfers for the LP versions, all of which were used in the production of this set by Warner Classics. It was really nice to see them give him this credit! The transfers are excellent given the time frame when the original recordings were made. In some cases, one very slightly hears the "whirr" of the 78-rpm shellac discs, but it is not obtrusive in the least. [—Ed.]
Lance G. Hill
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When she started to play, Mr. Steinway came down and personally
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John F
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Re: Historical Sibelius from Warner Classics

Post by John F » Wed Nov 04, 2015 7:15 am

The core of this set is HMV's Sibelius Society, a subscription recording project like Artur Schnabel's Beethoven sonatas and the Glyndebourne Mozart opera recordings. Kajanus was to have recorded more of the symphonies but he died in 1933; otherwise, Georg Schneevoigt wouldn't have been chosen to record the 6th symphony. All of this material was published on LP by EMI and the World Record Club (anybody remember them?), and I have it and am glad of it. Those whose collecting doesn't go back to the '70s and who care about Sibelius's music should pick up this set.
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maestrob
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Re: Historical Sibelius from Warner Classics

Post by maestrob » Wed Nov 04, 2015 12:40 pm

Rare recordings, indeed! Thanks, Lance, for posting this: it's on my Christmas wishlist. And they say the CD is dying.......? :P

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Re: Historical Sibelius from Warner Classics

Post by Lance » Wed Nov 04, 2015 9:52 pm

Hi John, and yes, I remember World Record Club very well, indeed. I have many of those LPs, including two boxed sets of Beecham material, and many other single LPs. It seems I simply cannot get enough of the great historical recordings so beautifully being transferred to first, LPs, and now CDs. I pay more attention (sometimes) to the older material than the new. Like you, I HIGHLY recommend this set to those who love great orchestral music. I have been exeedingly pleased with what I have hear of Kajanus. (Did I hear somewhere he may have been related to Sibelius?)
John F wrote:The core of this set is HMV's Sibelius Society, a subscription recording project like Artur Schnabel's Beethoven sonatas and the Glyndebourne Mozart opera recordings. Kajanus was to have recorded more of the symphonies but he died in 1933; otherwise, Georg Schneevoigt wouldn't have been chosen to record the 6th symphony. All of this material was published on LP by EMI and the World Record Club (anybody remember them?), and I have it and am glad of it. Those whose collecting doesn't go back to the '70s and who care about Sibelius's music should pick up this set.
Lance G. Hill
Editor-in-Chief
______________________________________________________

When she started to play, Mr. Steinway came down and personally
rubbed his name off the piano. [Speaking about pianist &*$#@+#]

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Lance
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Re: Historical Sibelius from Warner Classics

Post by Lance » Wed Nov 04, 2015 10:00 pm

In some ways, the CD is dying. There's not too much in the way of orchestral material I've heard that surpasses the fine recordings from the days of 78s and tape-to-LP-or-CD. The once major companies are not pumping out music that way they did from 1950 to the dawn of the CD, around 1985. Naturally, there are some wonderful artists of all kinds out there and they need to be supported. Insofar as chamber music, I'm not finding too much (other than esoteric works, or Baroque-through-Romantic composers whose forgotten music is being resurrected. Once all this great historical material, right through the stereo age to the time digital recording came about, who knows what material will be recorded given the fact that the grey-haired lovers of music is dying off and not being replaced by the younger generation in terms of quantity of people. Imagine having all of Toscanini, Furtwangler, Martinon, Reiner, Monteux, Flagstad, Horowitz, Rubinstein, Moiseiwitsch, Heifetz and so many others, all at our fingertips either through LP, CD or both! I think we have come through the best of times musically. YOU WILL LOVE THE SIBELIUS SET! (I could never wait until Christmastime even it is just weeks away!)
maestrob wrote:Rare recordings, indeed! Thanks, Lance, for posting this: it's on my Christmas wishlist. And they say the CD is dying.......? :P
Lance G. Hill
Editor-in-Chief
______________________________________________________

When she started to play, Mr. Steinway came down and personally
rubbed his name off the piano. [Speaking about pianist &*$#@+#]

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IN278S
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Re: Historical Sibelius from Warner Classics

Post by IN278S » Fri Nov 06, 2015 10:19 pm

Lance wrote:One other point the writer did not include is the fact that Sibelius himself conducts his Andante festivo (1924), leading the Finnish Radio Orchestra.
Or not. A post to rec.music.classical.recordings states that the sleeve for CD 2 gives a track time of 6:57 for the Andante Festivo. The broadcast recording of Sibelius conducting the work, as issued on CD by Ondine, runs just around six minutes. The seven-minute version is the one issued by World Record Club based on a misidentified tape from the Finnish radio archives. A reasonable guess, but still a guess, is that the seven-minute Andante is conducted by Finnish Radio's musical director Toivo Haapanen.

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