Minnesota Orchestra, Osmo Vänska – Sibelius: Symphonies Nos 1 & 4 (2013) [eClassical FLAC 24bit/96kHz]

Sibelius: Symphonies Nos 1 & 4 / Minnesota Orchestra, Osmo Vänskä (2013)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/96 kHz | Time – 74:06 minutes | 1,17 GB | Genre: Classical
Official Digital Download – Source: eClassical.com | Digital Booklet
* Grammy winner 2014 – Best Orchestral Performance *

The seven Sibelius symphonies span a quarter of a century in all (1899–1924) and encompass a complete world. Were one to choose two that reveal the furthermost poles of his symphonic art, they would be the two recorded here, the First and Fourth; the one an essay in the received tradi tion, the other a work so original and inward-looking as to open up an entirely new world, and inconceivable from the vantage point of the 1890s.

Finnish conductor Osmo Vänskä recorded this exact pair of Sibelius symphonies for the BIS label in 1996, with the Lahti Symphony Orchestra, and this 2013 release with the Minnesota Orchestra is recognizably the work of the same artist. However, he has not simply repeated the earlier performance with a new ensemble. The biggest differences come in the Symphony No. 4 in A minor, Op. 63, which Sibelius wrote after a cancer diagnosis, convinced that he was at death’s door. (He lived another 50 years.) The unbelievably dour finale is sometimes given over to histrionic declarations of gloom. Vänskä shaves almost a minute off the already quick earlier performance, resulting in a reading that some will find slightly dry. But really he just lets the music speak for itself, the Minnesota’s trombones cutting off phrases like anvils of death, the cyclical appearance of the tritone interval in the work emerging naturally in the precise work of the Minnesotans (who for all the talk of Finnish musical miracles are at least the equals of their Lahti counterparts) and doing the job of convincing the listener of the music’s utter hopelessness. The Symphony No. 1 in E minor, Op. 39, is closer to the earlier reading: taut, fast, devoted to the emergence of Sibelius’ unique brand of atomized forward motion, precise motivic work that builds up great waves of energy. The Tchaikovskian melody of the slow movement is again somewhat dry, but again the impression created by the whole is very powerful, and it is augmented by the superb work of the BIS engineering team on the musicians’ home ground, Orchestra Hall in Minneapolis. Highly recommended, even to those already immersed in Nordic readings of Sibelius.

01 – Symphony #1 – I. Andante, ma non troppo – Allegro energico
02 – II. Andante (ma non troppo lento)
03 – III. Scherzo. Allegro – Lento (ma non troppo) – Tempo I
04 – IV. Finale (Quasi una fantasia). Andante – Allegro molto
05 – Symphony #4 – I. Tempo molto moderato, quasi adagio
06 – II. Allegro molto vivace
07 – III. Il tempo largo
08 – IV. Allegro