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Re: GG and Sibelius

Dear Jacqueline,

    Sibelius has always struck me as a composer *perfectly* suited to
Gould's personality.  His best music disdains showmanship and is beautifully
structured.  In that regard, I am surprised that Gould didn't discuss more
of Sibelius's compositions.  Gould memorably states in his self-interview "I
couldn't live without the Sibelius 5th," but in some ways I think of
Symphony No. 4 and Symphony No. 7 as even more Gouldian.

    I'm basically seconding Bradley's recommendations here, but every
Gouldian needs to have one of the Karajan Sibelius 5ths.  He recorded one
for DG (probably closer to the the one GG heard and admired while in Berlin)
and one for EMI.  I like them both very much.  The EMI recording is
currently out of the catalogue, but cut-out tapes and LP's are still quite
available (and it was released on CD too, I believe).  Karajan's DG 5th may
be available separately; I know there is a 2-disk set of Karajan's
performances of the 4th, 5th, 6th, and 7th Symphonies available at

    Karajan's 4th is very fine (and here I have a preference for his EMI
performance).  The 1937 Beecham performance mentioned by Bradley is a
classic, and the sound is surprisingly good.  Lorin Maazel also does a fine
4th with the Vienna Philharmonic (much better than his later recording with
the Pittsburgh Symphony).  This is, as Bradley says, dark, brooding, and in
some ways depressing music.  But it is indescribably beautiful too.  Without
question, the Sibelius 4th is one of the greatest and most original
symphonies ever written, and it may well be the greatest composed in the
20th century.

    Karajan's 7th always seemed a bit wan to me (I only have it on LP,
though, and the sound may be superior in the CD transfer).  I adore Colin
Davis's recording with the Boston Symphony Orchestra, which captures all of
the music's grandeur (available in a Philips 2-for-1 set).  Davis's
re-recording with the LSO is on RCA, and conveniently available through the
classical cd clubs, if you're a member of one or the other of them.
Maazel's Vienna 7th is very good, as is Bernstein's NYPO recording.  Beecham
also has a fine 7th recorded in the late 1930s with the NYPO.

    There are a couple of other Sibelius tone poems (in addition to the
classics mentioned by Bradley)  that make first-rate Gouldian listening--I
think of them as perfect exemplars of "the idea of North."  One is "Night
Ride and Sunrise," which is just gorgeous nature-painting, and the other is
the extraordinary Tapiola, Sibelius's last orchestral composition, and one
of his greatest.  Colin Davis has an RCA CD with the LSO that includes both.
Karajan, Beecham, and Maazel all recorded classic "Tapiola" performances
(Maazel's may never have made it to CD, though).

    So, welcome, Jacqueline, and I hope you enjoy the Sibelius!

----- Original Message -----
From: "Jacqueline Colombier" <jpc171@HOTMAIL.COM>
Sent: Thursday, August 17, 2000 12:58 PM

> Dear F minor,

> > - In The Glenn Gould legacy, vol 3, (with the wonderful Brahms's
> I love the Sibelius sonatinas but apart from these and the violin concerto
> don't know much of Sibelius = I'd like to know more, so maybe someone can
> give some advices ? About his symphonies for instance ?
>                         Best, Jacqueline
> ________________________________________________________________________
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