Sibelius on a Budget

When I rediscovered classical music, I became especially interested in the music of Finnish composer Jean Sibelius (1865-1957). The bells in Symphony #4 hooked me, and the somber poetry in works like “Tapiola” and “Nightride and Sunrise” reeled me in. Times being what they were, I tried to find a “minimal-expenditure” path through some of his seminal works, and this is the result.

The excellent book Classical Music: The 50 Greatest Composers and Their 1,000 Greatest Works by Phil G. Goulding provided me with a good list: a “master collection” of Sibelius’s most important works. If you get all of the discs listed here, you’ll have that whole collection at the lowest price possible. (If you can find a way to lower the total, please let me know in the comments.)

Sibelius: The Symphonies.  Lorin Maazelconducts the Weiner Philharmoniker.Recorded in Vienna between from September 1963 to April 1968. Three discs, all seven symphonies (Ops. 39, 43, 52, 63, 82, 104, and 105), from London/Decca (2LC3 430-778). $18.94 with Autorip means that it’s cheaper to order the discs and get the MP3 album free, rather than ordering the MP3 album ($28.49). Amazon is full of head-scratchers like that.

Sibelius: Kullervo. Almost a symphony, this is Sibelius’s symphonic poem for soprano, baritone, chorus, and orchestra (Op. 7). Jorma Panulaconducts the Turku Philharmonicand the Laululun Ystävätale Choir with Johana Rusanen (soprano) and Esa Ruutunen (baritone). Recorded at the Turku Concert Hall in June 1996. From Naxos (8-553756). As I write this, slightly cheaper on MP3 album than CD.

Sibelius: Finlandia . Two discs; on the first disc, Vladimir Ashkenazyconducts the London Philharmonia Orchestraon Finlandia (Op. 26), the Karelia Suite (Op. 11), Luonnotar (Op. 70, with Elisabeth Söderströmperforming the soprano part), Tapiola (Op. 112), and En Saga (Op. 9); on the second disc, Horst Steinconducts L’Orchestre de la Suisse Romandeon Nightride & Sunrise (Op. 55), Pohjola’s Daughter (Op. 49), and the Lemminkäinen Suite (Op. 22). From London/Decca Double Decker (2DF2 452-576).

Sibelius & Nielsen: Violin Concertos. Esa-Pekka Salonenconducts the London Philharmonia on Violin Concerto in D minor (Op. 47, featuring Cho-Liang Lin on violin). You get Nielsen’s violin concerto as well, with the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra forming the foundation for the two hyphenates. From Sony (92613).

Sibelius: Songs. Hannu Jurmu (tenor) and Juoni Somero (piano). The master collection lists only “songs”, and these are some. From Naxos (8-570019). Again, cheaper on MP3 than CD.

Sibelius: String Quartets  featuring the Jean Sibelius Quartet on the String Quartet in A minor (no Op.#) and the String Quartet in D minor “Voces Intimae” (Op. 56).

That would cover it all, except that somehow none of these discs include “Valse Triste”. Happily, you can buy the MP3 separately to fill your virtual shelf. There’s “Valse Triste” from Pietari Inkinenconducting the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra.

Total outlay: Under $70. Terveisin!

—jhunterj

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