Sorry about that. If I had picked a different version to represent Berglund
, it would have been the interesting Chamber Orchestra of Europe
one. This next group returned sort-of average scores
, they are, in rising order:Ashkenazy
/Stockholm SO/Exton, Vanska
/Lahti SO/BIS, Bernstein
/Vienna PO/DG, Segerstam
and heading this group, Oramo
Three more Finns, an American and a Russian.
Sample No.6 Ashkenazy
/Stockholm SO/Exton (2007) 20:32"It is light to the extreme, not weighty enough somehow, feels rushed.""again one hears excellent playing in the antiphonal section."
Ashkenazy is the fastest of the ten. His older recording with the Philharmonia is almost 2 minutes longer and, in hindsight, probably preferable.
/Lahti SO/BIS (1997) 22:42"the drama at the end, again, is more subdued than in other versions.""Lighter, leaner feel. I like this."
This recording - another all-Finnish combination - is the BBC Building A Library
top choice for this symphony, and is loved by reviewers in general. And is ukrneal
's 2nd choice.
I find it middle-of-the-road in all things which is perhaps the whole point in this so-called 'organic' music. This entire Vanska symphony cycle plus other orchestral works well recorded on BIS is usually available at a super-bargain price. If you want to acquire some Sibelius this cycle has to be a top recommendation. Vanska has subsequently re-recorded the symphonies, with the Minnesota Orchestra, again on BIS. WHY??
/Vienna PO/DG (1990) 24:47"this is an extreme, like each phrase has been taken out and spit polished and put back on display with a spotlight over it.""Generally good though a bit exhausting on the ears, even after just 5 minutes."
Bernstein conducts the slowest version of the 7th in my collection of about 30 recordings. This recording, made shortly before the conductor's death, runs to an almost painful 24:47. I generally like slow, and I do like this one - and it's Mahlerian
's 2nd choice - although the recording is unfortunately not DG's finest. It's usually available in a set of 1st, 2nd, 5th and 7th symphonies, an unfinished cycle. The broody moody 4th symphony
- the dark heart
of Sibelius - would have been a wonderful thing, had Bernstein been spared a little longer. He did of course record a complete cycle with the NYPO about 25 years earlier, still available and remastered.
/Danish RSO/Chandos (1995?) 22:08"Didn't really like certain details, but it creates an effective view.""The opening is very good, as is the middle part, and the dramatic build-up in the next part rivals that of II! Excellent overall!"
Segerstam with a Danish orchestra qualifies as a Scandinavian combination. And, actually, the highest-ranked such in this comparison. Something about the '90s Chandos sound suggests 'expansive' but actually his timing is exactly on point (and exactly the same timing as the eventual group winner). Like Kamu, I'm surprised this didn't do better, and it was Cato
's 2nd choice. Segerstam has also recordecd the 7th with the Helsinki SO on Ondine so that version may be preferred although it is about a minute faster. Incidentally Segerstam is the Building A Library
1st choice in Tapiola - which is sometimes billed as "Sibelius' 8th" (though personally I find it a rather uninteresting piece of music).
/CBSO/Erato (2003) 21:12"love the characterful winds! Elegant, and phrasing/accents just all make sense. Love the quick scherzo tempi. Great balance when the brass come in.""The individual strands of the music feel alive here."
Oramo was Mahlerian
's 1st choice and Senta
's 2nd choice, and does sit a bit ahead of the other four here. A Finnish conductor, and the Birmingham orchestra has good credentials having previously recorded a successful Sibelius cycle under Simon Rattle. This recording dates from 2003 (like Berglund/LPO). Oramo is on the quick side which may have led me to dismiss this recording too easliy - note to self, LISTEN AGAIN.
Oramo too has Building A Library
palmares - he is the top choice for the 4th Symphony. (Really?
/CBSO was sadly squeezed out of this comparison, and his new BPO 7th
- which has been reviewed as the best in that cycle - is out of my price range!
Other notable recordings that were regrettably squeezed out include:Paul Magi
/Uppsala CO Mravinsky
/Leningrad PO Beecham
/Iceland SO Sanderling
/Berlin SO Tintner
/SO Nova Scotia De Priest
is one I discovered only while preparing this comparison, and although he is very quick (20:50) I really like this recording and would set it up alongside my own favourites as an alternative take.
After Oramo, there is a clear gap in the rankings, then - two to go!