Classical Editor: Rob Barnett                               Music Webmaster Len Mullenger:

En Saga, tone poem op. 9
Spring Song, tone poem op. 16
Valse triste op. 44, no. 1
Scene with Cranes op. 44 no.2
Canzonetta op. 62a
Valse romantique op. 62b
The Bard op. 64b
Tapiola, tone poem op. 112

Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra conducted by Neeme Järvi
recorded 1992, 1994, 1995 in Gothenburg, Konserthuset.
DG 457 654-2  [71.21]
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Here is yet again another of those compilations of unissued recordings which Universal seem to be releasing these days, clearing out the library of tapes which have been made for release some time in the future.

It is no matter with this disc - Järvi brings his customary skill to the short pieces as well as the more substantial items (En Saga and Tapiola) to make a highly desirable record. This complements the earlier two discs of these short pieces - (447 760-2 and 453 426-2).

For me the highlights me are En Saga and Tapiola, one, an early work and the other, Sibelius's last orchestral opus.

The playing of these works by the Gothenburg Orchestra cannot be faulted, and the DG recording quality is well up to their usual standard. Those of you have heard either of the earlier releases will know what to expect, and if the repertoire is attractive, I cannot see you holding back.

The third, fourth, fifth and sixth items on this release come from the incidental music to Arvid Järnefelt's drama Kuolema, and it is good to see these excerpts together on the disc. Too often companies cherry pick, and all we get is Valse Triste and not much else. Here we have four excerpts but not the full complement as Sibelius wrote six pieces for his op. 44, and we get here two items only. The remaining two items (from op. 62) make up the quartet.

En Saga has plenty of youthful lift. The middle section, played at a reasonable level, makes a considerable impact. The recording quality is outstanding with a deep fully extended bass (perhaps more than could be heard in the concert hall).

Tapiola does not eclipse the earlier recordings of the piece by Karajan and the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra (also DG). In the earlier recordings some listeners responded adversely to the slightly glossy sheen on the strings. Here DG convey the elemental power of the forest and its God, Tapio, without refined distraction. When Tapiola ended the first time I played it (thank God it is the last work on the disc), I didn't get up to switch to the next disc for about 5 minutes. I cannot give a disc a higher recommendation than that.

John Phillips

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