It is definitely a good thing that the enterprising label Nimbus have taken over production and distribution of the former Sanctuary Hallé label with its list of excellent recordings as well as glorious new ventures such as Mark Elder's unimpeachable "Dream of Gerontius" which has already won several accolades.
This new disc featuring two Sibelius symphonies certainly falls into this category as it has an orchestra which has a fine tradition in this composer's music going back to Sir John Barbirolli's legendary interpretations. Elder is definitely on the ball in the First with its mystical opening and long drawn symphonic lines. The Finale is also particularly engaging, matching Beecham and other famous greats in its sheer sweep and intensity.
The Third happens to be one of my favourite symphonies and I cannot understand why it is so overlooked by conductors and patrons alike. In this magnificent live performance, Elder brings out all the magic and beauty of the work and is level pegging with the stable recommendations such as Sir Colin Davis (Philips) or Vladimir Ashkenazy (Decca).
Hallé's recording is top drawer quality whilst the accompanying notes provide detailed insights into the symphonies' history and their technical details. One hopes that this fabulous issue will be the start of a cycle which will undoubtedly be one of the top drawer recommendations of the Sibelius symphonies.
Copyright © 2009, Gerald Fenech