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Sibelius, Shostakovich & Stravinsky

Sibelius Symphonies Nos.1&3

Hallé Orchesra/Mark Elder

own label: HLL 7514

An uncommonly satisfying coupling of two recordings from Manchester in association with the BBC.

No. 1 is a studio recording at New Broadcasting House & No. 3 taken from a live performance at Bridgewater Hall.

Both sound splendid and the accounts are marked by steadiness of tempi and absence of histrionics, Elder (Music Director of the Hallé since 2000) delineating the structures with clarity and without distracting rubati which mar some performances for short term effect.

There are long gaps between the two symphonies (few people would want to listen to them both straight off) whereas from Paavo Jarvi & Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra a satisfactory performance of Shostakovich No. 10 leaves you at the end insufficient time to get to the controls before it is overtaken by the noisy Tormis Overture No. 2, which does not really earn its place as fill-up [Telarc CD 80702].


Sibelius: Symphonies Nos. 3 & 6; Stravinsky: Violin Concerto

Northern Sinfonia/Thomas Zehetmair (violin/conductor)

Avie - AV2150 [recorded at The Sage Gateshead]

An attractive coupling of two less often played Sibelius symphonies with Stravinsky’s Violin Concerto. Zehetmair is a powerful violinist, whether leading his quartet or conducting his orchestra.

That aspect is abetted by the vivid recording here, which is fine for the Third symphony but, I felt, less appropriate for the cooler 6th "the purest, most inward, almost hypnotic of his works" (Avie's publicity).

And the concerto is undeniably exciting, but is it how Stravinsky envisaged its sounding? As more commonly the case with concerto recordings in former years, the solo violin is too far forward.

So this is one to try to hear before purchasing.

Peter Grahame Woolf





Foto: Maik Schuck