Guild is fast paying tribute to the brilliant conducting talents of Leopold Stokowski with several rare releases in their fine Historical series. The latest is an all-Sibelius compilation from 1953 recorded with the Helsinki Symphony Orchestra and as expected, the works are overflowing with fire and brimstone in typical Stokowskian fashion.
The still alive Sibelius must have been pleased with the conductor's no-nonsense approach to Finlandia which is a barnstormer to say the least. The First Symphony is also given a dramatic interpretation with the Finale particularly enticing and the slow movement justly dramatic and austere. Stokowski also imbues the Seventh with just the right dosage of intensity and beauty; this has to be one of my favourite Sibelius symphonies with its grand sweep and sense of vision.
Excerpts from Pelléas and Mélisande complete this well-filled disc which though in rather poor sound should be in every self-respecting Sibelius collection.
Copyright © 2008 by Gerald Fenech