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Sibelius: Symphonies no 1 and 3 / Elder, Hallé Orchestra

Album Summary

>Sibelius, Jean : Symphony no 1 in E minor, Op. 39
>Sibelius, Jean : Symphony no 3 in C major, Op. 52
Conductor Ensemble Composer

Notes & Reviews:

This disc marks the long-awaited release of the Halle's recordings of works by Sibelius, conducted by Music Director Sir Mark Elder. The disc couples the romantic first symphony - heavily influenced by the great orchestrators Tchaikovsky, Bruckner, and Berlioz - with the beautifully crafted, Nordic-inspired third symphony, scored for the kind of forces Beethoven or Schumann would have recognized.

Gramophone Classical Music Guide
The rhetorical thrust Sibelius inherited from the music of Tchaikovsky is downplayed in Sir Mark Elder's studio recording of the First Symphony so as to expose those compositional details which make the invention inescapably Sibelian. Throughout Elder looks for significant detail, heightening string sawings more often viewed as accompanimental and even reintroducing touches of portamento redolent of the Barbirolli era. He seems fascinated by the way Sibelius can make his music appear to move at different speeds at different levels of an orchestral texture. What's missing is the adrenalin rush of a speed merchant like Anthony Collins or the über-Romantic throb of Leonard Bernstein.

With the Third Symphony (taped live) Elder is on firmer ground. Sibelius seems to have intended to give the music a self-consciously cool attitude anticipating that defined in 1920 by his friend Ferrucio Busoni as Junge Klassizität or the 'New Classicality'. Its freshness has a studied air but who's to say it shouldn't have? The overall pacing is spacious with the finale fusing its various sections into a convincing proto-minimalist chug.

The back inlay quotes the claim by an unnamed Guardian critic (actually Tim Ashley) that the Hallé sound captures the composer's 'quintessential mix of frost and fire better than any other UK orchestra'. That may be pushing it. Still this is a thought-provoking pairing, finely recorded.

The Telegraph
Right from the first big theme you can feel Elder cajoling his Manchester band into giving the music that extra ounce of excitement.

Sunday Times
Elder has raised the stakes even higher than his illustrious predecessor did: just listen to the gorgeous wind-playing, especially the flutes in the flute-friendly C major symphony (No 3), to hear what I mean...The playing and recording, are first-class. Lucky Manchester.



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Works Details

>Sibelius, Jean : Symphony no 1 in E minor, Op. 39
  • Conductor: Mark Elder
  • Ensemble: Hallé Orchestra
  • Notes: BBC Studio 7, New Broadcasting House, Manchester, England (08/01/2006-08/02/2006)
  • Running Time: 38 min. 23 sec.
  • Period Time: Post Romantic
  • Form: Orchestral
  • Written: 1899

>Sibelius, Jean : Symphony no 3 in C major, Op. 52
  • Conductor: Mark Elder
  • Ensemble: Hallé Orchestra
  • Running Time: 29 min. 10 sec.
  • Period Time: Post Romantic
  • Form: Orchestral
  • Written: 1904-1907