Talich (the best, but mono), Vaclav Neumann, Kertesz
Kubelik is also excellent but not quite as good as Kertesz, for me. I find Kubelik terrific in Mahler, Beethoven, and his Bruckner Sym Nr. 9 on Orfeo is incredible.
Indeed, besides the sunbeams of unspeakable individuality which reach straight for the heart, historal context is a inevitable part of the experience..
People in general are all so tight up in trivial contemporary crap anyways
The veil is in your head, not the recording. You learn to listen past that if you make an effort. I can't imagine doing without great recordings of the past... Especially in opera and instrumental solo music where there is no modern equivalent to a lot of older recordings.
It took me a LONG time to find Sibelius that didn't bore me. The one that changed everything for me was Kajanus. But again, these are recordings from the 30s. These are my own transfers from original shellac disks...
Pohjola's Daughter Op 49
Tapiola Op 112
Symphony No 5 in E flat Major Op 82
|These legendary recordings were made in June of 1932 by Sibelius' friend, Robert Kajanus. Kajanus was instrumental to the tremendous growth of Finnish music through the turn of the century, founding the Helsinki Philharmonic and leading it for over fifty years. He composed several notable orchestral works, including the tone poem Aino, based on a folk tale from the Kalevala. But when he came in contact with the music of Sibelius, he set aside composing for a career as a conductor. He worked closely with Sibelius on his interpretations, and his recordings of the First, Second, Third and Fifth symphonies have come to be regarded as definitive.
Kajanus told an amusing story about his friendship with Sibelius... He was dining in a small restaurant outside of Helsinki with Sibelius and a group of friends, when he revealed that he would have to leave soon to conduct a performance of the Helsinki Philharmonic. Sibelius protested his departure, arguing that an assistant could easily conduct in his absence. Kajanus reluctantly excused himself to make a phone call to let the theater manager know he wouldn't be able to make it to the performance. But when he got to the phone, he felt guilty for neglecting his responsibility. He picked up his hat and coat and took the train to Helsinki without saying goodbye to the group. He conducted the program, returned on the night train and arrived back again at the restaurant to find Sibelius and company still ensconced just as he had left them. As he sat back down at the table, Sibelius looked over at him and said, "My! That was a long phone call!"
Try not to let mono sound hold you back. There are a lot of great DG recordings from the 1950s in mono that sound incredible (examples include those recordings collected on the 10-cd set MUSIK ... SPRACHE DER WELT, which you can listen to for free on DG's site)...
Vol II: http://www.deutschegrammophon.com/en/cat/4775494 (some of this is in stereo)