Home | Reviews | Articles | Festivals | Competitions | Other | Contact Us

Sibelius Symphony No 2; En Saga; Luonnotar

Staaskapelle Drseden / Sir Colin Davis / Ute Seblig (soprano)

No sooner had I commended this recording when comparing Sir Colin Davis’ other two versions of Sibelius 2… than a copy of the re-issue felicitously arrived to confirm my impressions.

Davis is consistent – no-one who knows the Boston or LSO versions will be surprised by this, but in details, the Hannsler disc is probably the best performance. From the sprung rhythms at the beginning, to the triumphant marching bass at the end, there is the ideal balance between control and 'live' expressivity.

We are used to hearing the sense of remoteness, other-worldliness, in Davis' Sibelius. That is much in evidence on this CD. Although No. 2 is perhaps the most accessible of all the symphonies, full of big tunes and overt nationalism, Davis makes no effort to preserve its difference, its otherness from the mainstream symphonic tradition.

At other moments, too, notably the seamless transition from scherzo to finale, and the architectural grandeur of the climax, we also hear an ineluctable logic behind how the pieces unfold. The Dresden orchestra plays immaculately. The Dresden Semperoper acoustic is more spacious than the Barbican, and the recording is of course much more modern than the venerable Boston version of Philips. 

Ute Seblig has excellent diction and a warm tone; both Luonnotar and En Saga suit Davis’ atmospheric approach to Sibelius. This is a very welcome reissue. For a single disc of “Davis conducts Sibelius”, a best buy. 

Ying Chang 

See earlier review of Davis conducts Sibelius 2 (LSO live)