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Sibelius Symphonies - Page 16

post #226 of 233
The question of who is the "better" symphonic composer is too vague to answer, really. In terms of symphonic composition, managing the sonata-allegro form, creating new forms from old, and building an entire symphonic edifice that grows organically, there's no question that Sibelius is one of the true masters. If you study musical analysis, and really dig in to scores, Sibelius' mastery of things becomes quickly apparent, and very often mind boggling in what he did. Unfortunately, these days people don't read books on musical analysis and judge music on its aural merits, not that there's anything wrong with that. After, that's what the composer intended anyway! And this explains why you might find Nielsen more approachable. His first four symphonies are certainly vital, muscular, exciting music. He has more flair for orchestral writing than Sibelius. But his mastery of form, while not by any means unimpressive, doesn't match the genius of Sibelius.

For most average listeners, Sibelius symphonies 1, 2, 5 are the only ones that will ever have mass appeal. More advanced (if that's the right word) listeners will love 3 and 7. 6 is the weakest, and hardly anyone seems to understand 4 -- depressing as you might say. Nielsen's most popular are 2, 3, 4, 5 all of which I've encountered in concerts. But never 1 or 6, oddly enough. I think 2 & 4 are just about as exciting as music can get. Great stuff.
post #227 of 233
Sibelius isn't really Sibelius in the 1st Symphony. I find it pretty ordinary and get bored with it quickly. The sound world I've heard before -- derivative. I also don't think Nielson is anywhere near Sibelius as a composer. And I love the dark 4th, and the beginning of the 6th is amazing.
post #228 of 233
I look at the Sibelius symphonies like this:

1,2
Romantic similar in style to Tchaikovsky/Brahms, compare Brahms 3 to Sibelius 2........you want a great Sibelius 1 check Karajan/EMI (not DG)

3
Transitional to later style, taste of things to come

4,5,6,7
Impressionist, exploring with tonal and harmonic coloring to "paint" an emotional icy landscape becoming bleak and forboding by 7th
Sibelius then mysteriously stopped composing for last 30yrs of his life
post #229 of 233
DA - Maybe I missed it, but what were your thoughts on Segerstam / Ondine set?

Tyson - How does the Davis / LSO Live compare to the Boston recordings?
post #230 of 233
Quote:
Originally Posted by seacard View Post
DA - Maybe I missed it, but what were your thoughts on Segerstam / Ondine set?

Tyson - How does the Davis / LSO Live compare to the Boston recordings?
I think the new Segerstam/Ondine is over rated, good but not great performance with great modern sound......similar in style to Vanska/BIS, a bit too polished without enough dramatic contrast overall for me, I find many sets more satisfying like:

Maazel/Decca
Bernstein/Sony
Berglund/Helsinki/EMI
Gibson/Chandos
Jarvi/BIS (not new DG boxset)

I am not a big Davis fan but found his LSO Live versions to be much better than the LSO/RCA boxset or the older BSO/Phillips Duo........the LSO/RCA gets a rosette in Penguin Guide (???????)
post #231 of 233
There's another new set being completed with Ashkenazy and the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic on the Exton label in sacd. I picked up the 2nd, and I'm sorry to report that despite the marvelous open sound in sacd, which is much better than the Davis/LSO, the new version is a letdown and doesn't compare to his earlier Decca set. Maazel made the same mistake: his early VPO versions in general were superior to the Pittsburgh remakes despite infinitely better playing and sound.

Before anyone goes and gets the David/LSO set you should be warned: the conductor's notorious grunting and snorting are very audible and annoying. His Boston set is still a fine achievement and shouldn't be dismissed.
post #232 of 233
Quote:
Originally Posted by mbhaub View Post
There's another new set being completed with Ashkenazy and the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic on the Exton label in sacd. I picked up the 2nd, and I'm sorry to report that despite the marvelous open sound in sacd, which is much better than the Davis/LSO, the new version is a letdown and doesn't compare to his earlier Decca set. Maazel made the same mistake: his early VPO versions in general were superior to the Pittsburgh remakes despite infinitely better playing and sound.

Before anyone goes and gets the David/LSO set you should be warned: the conductor's notorious grunting and snorting are very audible and annoying. His Boston set is still a fine achievement and shouldn't be dismissed.
MB is is surprisingly common for me to prefer a conductors older set of any composer compared to a recent new remake like the Ashknenazy example above........the main exception usually for me is a radical rethink in performance style like HIP versions of Beethoven etc which can produce some real new insights and refreshing sounds
post #233 of 233
Quote:
Originally Posted by mbhaub View Post
There's another new set being completed with Ashkenazy and the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic on the Exton label in sacd. I picked up the 2nd, and I'm sorry to report that despite the marvelous open sound in sacd, which is much better than the Davis/LSO, the new version is a letdown and doesn't compare to his earlier Decca set. Maazel made the same mistake: his early VPO versions in general were superior to the Pittsburgh remakes despite infinitely better playing and sound.

Before anyone goes and gets the David/LSO set you should be warned: the conductor's notorious grunting and snorting are very audible and annoying. His Boston set is still a fine achievement and shouldn't be dismissed.
Actually Ashkenazy re-recorded some of them with Exton and the Helsinki Phil, maybe 7 years ago, but I don't think they were ever released.

Incidentally, Segerstam's earlier set with Danish National Radio has been re-released on Brilliant Classics at bargain price. It's an interesting set, more eccentric than the recent Ondine set.
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