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 Favourites, Sibelius

SibeliusWatching Barbirolli conduct Sibelius was an important part of my musical education and for me he remains one of the greatest composers – the atmosphere he conjures up is quite magical. I have tried to choose conductors and artists who bring passion and intensity to their interpretations.

Symphonies

Hallé Orchestra, Mark Elder

Exhilarating performances by Mark Elder and the Halle in top form.

Available Formats: CD, MP3, FLAC

Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Hallé Orchestra, Sir John Barbirolli

Barbirolli’s inspirational accounts of the two most popular – and perhaps the greatest – of Sibelius's symphonies.

Available Format: CD

Berliner Philharmoniker, Herbert von Karajan

Glorious sound from Karajan and the Berlin Phil, recorded in the mid-sixties, with Tapiola and The Swan of Tuonela added for good measure.

Available Formats: 2 CDs, MP3, FLAC

London Symphony Orchestra, Sir Colin Davis

Colin Davis's LSO live recordings of Sibelius demonstrate his stature, particularly in the 7th symphony.

Available Formats: SACD, MP3, FLAC, Hi-Res FLAC

City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Sir Simon Rattle

I saw Simon Rattle conduct the CBSO in Sibelius on many occasions and would recommend this set without reservation. And what a bargain. For the price of a single CD you get the seven symphonies; the Violin Concerto with Nigel Kennedy; Night Ride and Sunrise; The Oceanides; and the 'Scene with Cranes' from Kuoleme!

Available Format: 4 CDs

Wiener Philharmoniker, Leonard Bernstein

For a visual as well as aural experience enjoy Bernstein in spectacular form, recorded live between 1986 and 1990.

Available Format: 2 DVD Videos

Wiener Philharmoniker, Leonard Bernstein

For a visual as well as aural experience enjoy Bernstein in spectacular form, recorded live between 1986 and 1990.

Available Format: Blu-ray

Tone Poems and more

Jennifer Pike, Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra, Sir Andrew Davis

A passionate and dramatic rendering of the violin concerto by Jennifer Pike followed by compelling accounts of the Karelia Suite; The Swan of Tuonela; Valse Triste; Andante Festivo and Finlandia.

Available Formats: SACD, MP3, FLAC, Hi-Res FLAC

Soile Isokoski, Tommi Hakala, YL Male Voice Choir & Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra, Leif Segerstam

Kullervo is a tragic character in an epic mythological poem in which the hero commits suicide after discovering that he has inadvertently raped his sister. Sibelius tells the story in five movements, three of which are purely orchestral. Lief Segerstam's reading is dramatic and theatrical, with Soile Isokowski outstanding in the role of the sister.

Available Formats: 3 CDs, MP3, FLAC

Philharmonia Orchestra, L'Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, Vladimir Ashkenazy, Horst Stein

This Decca double disc offers a good selection of Sibelius's finest music, with particularly fine interpretations by Ashkenazy of Finlandia, Tapiola and En Saga, together with Luonnotar (with Elisabeth Söderström), the Lemminkäinen Suite, Nightride and Sunrise, and Pohjola's Daughter.

Available Formats: 2 CDs, MP3, FLAC

Pia Pajala, Waltteri Torikka, Turku Philharmonic Orchestra, Leif Segerstam

I strongly recommend this – Sibelius’s theatre music is fresh and atmospheric, beautifully played hear by Leif Segerstam and his Finnish orchestra. As well as the incidental music to the two plays there are two songs from Twelfth Night.

Available Formats: CD, MP3, FLAC, Hi-Res FLAC

Chamber and Vocal

Tempera Quartet

Impressive playing from a young Finnish quartet, highlighting the D minor quartet which was Sibelius’s most striking work in this genre.

Available Formats: CD, MP3, FLAC, Hi-Res FLAC

Tom Krause, Irwin Gage, Elisabeth Söderström, Vladimir Ashkenazy, Carlos Bonell

The Swedish soprano Katerina Karnéus provides a perfect introduction to what Robert Layton described as “one of music’s best kept secrets”.

Available Formats: MP3, FLAC