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SIbelius: Symphony No. 2; Karelia Suite

Album Summary

>Sibelius, Jean : Symphony no 2 in D major, Op. 43
>Sibelius, Jean : Karelia Suite, Op. 11
Conductor Ensemble Composer

Notes & Reviews:

The Guardian has praised Pietari Inkinen as "a conductor of bold, sure-footed intelligence" and the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra as "a fine, responsive unit." This third volume in Naxos' new Sibelius series presents the dramatic and highly popular Symphony No. 2, which emerges from the northern mists, cultivating a pastoral atmosphere along the way, ultimately reaching a grandiose, heroic finale. One of Sibelius's best loved compositions, the Karelia Suite presents a series of musical tableaux based on stirring episodes from Finnish history.

"The third volume of Inkinen's Sibelius cycle with the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra boasts the same sure interpretative instincts, warm-hearted playing and excellent sound as its predecessors. Inkinen takes an unashamedly romantic view of the Second Symphony, and the Karelia Suite provides an atmospheric filler." -Financial Times

"In Sibelius’s Second Symphony, he elicits a sound that is rich, bottom-heavy, but always transparent, the colours deep, the inner textures clear...Most impressive, however, is his generous, intelligent shaping of the work, whose climactic coalescings he relishes for their own sake, rather than to self-glorify." -Sunday Times

New Zealand Listener
Other than his underwhelming climaxes in No 1, Inkinen hits the mark with all other six. It says much of him and the NZSO that this is one of the most consummate versions in a competitive market for Sibelius's most popular symphony. It's the same with his No 3. String detail is crisp even in the difficult viola writing in the first movement. There is an interesting inverse correlation between popularity and greatness in Sibelius, which reaches its peak in No 4, to my mind his greatest work, yet his least popular. Clarity is to the fore, too, in the popular No 5, with crisp woodwind detail and the swaggering positivity of what Donald Tovey called "Thor swinging his hammer" in the finale. The self-effacing No 6, with its pastoral serenity almost hiding its intellectual subtlety, is so modest it sounds chamber orchestra-like much of the time. No 7's powerful contraction of thought creates a sense of scale well beyond its 20-minute time frame.

American Record Guide
This is a thoroughly good performance of Sibelius 2 and Karelia. In tempos and interpretive gestures it is flawless. The orchestra is excellent. Not a note, a turn of phrase, or any detail of execution is out of place. It is cold but not excessively so, a thin current of warmth emerging occasionally. The Naxos sound is clear, cool, and full of detail. It is well balanced, not grossly distorted or too fiercely straight. If you go for it you'll be pleased...

The ebullient Karelia Suite receives a generally attractive reading, although I find the opening Intermezzo and concluding Alla marcia a bit flat-footed - my most frequent criticism of Inkinen's Sibelius. Still, this disc represents a high point in this Sibelius cycle, and another impressive achievement for the New Zealand Symphony.

Classic FM
High playing standards, a firm grasp of the music's architecture and emotional content, and a budget price

Notes & Reviews:

Recording information: Michael Fowler Centre, Wellington, New Zealand.


Sweeping and Romantic Rendering of Sibelius’ Best
The Sibelius Symphony #2 opens with a beautiful and melodic woodwind passage, and the entire symphony continues in that pleasant vein. As the short liner notes state, the symphony is meant to bring to mind the land of Finland, and it easily succeeds. The middle two movements are bit too “romantic” for my taste, but the final movement, with the bass background driving the glorious theme, is fantastic. The Karelia suite also put on this CD is quite light and fun. It sounds like sleigh bells ringing along on a winter voyage through the woods.
Submitted on 05/31/11 by Dynamic_Andy 
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Works Details

>Sibelius, Jean : Symphony no 2 in D major, Op. 43
  • Conductor: Pietari Inkinen
  • Ensemble: New Zealand Symphony Orchestra
  • Notes: Michael Fowler Centre, Wellington, New Zealand (10/16/2008-10/18/2008)
  • Running Time: 43 min. 43 sec.
  • Period Time: Post Romantic
  • Form: Orchestral
  • Written: 1901-1902

>Sibelius, Jean : Karelia Suite, Op. 11
  • Conductor: Pietari Inkinen
  • Ensemble: New Zealand Symphony Orchestra
  • Running Time: 17 min. 32 sec.
  • Period Time: Post Romantic
  • Written: 1893