Classical Music Home

Welcome to Naxos Records

Email Password  
Not a subscriber yet?  
Keyword Search
 Classical Music Home > Naxos Album Reviews

Album Reviews

See latest reviews of other albums...

Richard A. Kaplan
Fanfare, November 2014

Vänskä’s driven First and probing Fourth are provocative rethinkings of these familiar scores. © 2014 Fanfare

Joe Milicia
Enjoy the Music, July 2014

Sound Quality:

…this new recording is easy to recommend: the interpretations are compelling, the playing committed and brilliant, and the SACD sound state-of-the-art. © 2014 Enjoy the Music Read complete review

WQXR (New York), January 2014

With the 15-month lockout behind it, the Minnesota Orchestra can now look ahead to its first concerts in its renovated Orchestra Hall in downtown Minneapolis, scheduled for Feb. 7-15. This battle-weary orchestra may have even more to celebrate if a Grammy goes to the group’s recording of Sibelius’s Symphonies Nos. 1 & 4, recorded prior to the labor dispute with (now former) music director Osmo Vanska. While not as popular as some of Sibelius’s other works, these performances have deep strain of Nordic beauty. © 2014 WQXR (New York)

National Public Radio, December 2013

See complete list of NPR Music’s 100 Favorite Songs Of 2013

Minnesota Orchestra/Osmo Vänskä, Sibelius: Symphony No. 4. IV. Allegro

The Minnesota Orchestra is on a long, messy hiatus while all parties figure out how to get back to work. Here’s an example of why this group matters beyond the Twin Cities: exceptionally vivid ensemble and solo playing in music by one of the greatest Scandinavian composers. © 2013 National Public Radio

Guy Rickards
Gramophone, August 2013

The passion and sweep of the First, where I feel Sibelius – intentionally or otherwise – beat the Russians at their own game in writing a symphony on the Russian model, is even more electric than in Lahti, rivalling Berglund’s classic Helsinki version and overhauling those by Järvi and (dare I say it) Sir Colin Davis. There is a richer, slightly fuller sound to the Minnesota players, particularly noticeable in the Fourth’s stark slow movement, while losing none of the majesty of the writing, especially at the climax. Matters are less clear in the Fourth; while there are differences of approach in all the versions compared, this most stylistically advanced of Sibelius’s symphonies emerges equally well as a hugely powerful utterance. With superb sound as always from BIS, this new disc has set the bar for all to follow and past ones to be measured against. © 2013 Gramophone Read complete review on Gramophone

Daniel Coombs
Audiophile Audition, April 2013

Finnish conductor Osmo Vänskä certainly has a clean, authentic approach to the symphonies of his native country’s best known composer.

This exciting new recording of the First and Fourth symphonies gives us plenty to be happy with…These are very fine performances indeed.

The performances by the Minnesota Orchestra, under the direction of Osmo Vänskä, are great. The BIS sound engineers did their usual fine job. The SACD recording is lively and clear…This disc makes an equally compelling case for the Sibelius symphonies as it does for the talents of the Minnesota Orchestra… © 2013 Audiophile Audition Read complete review

Julie Amacher
Minnesota Public Radio, March 2013

One of the most incredible moments in the First Symphony occurs right in the opening movement at the end of the exposition. One of the Minnesota Orchestra’s many strong suits is the power and clarity of the brass section. In the first movement the intensity builds as the woodwinds pick up speed, the brass section enters majestically, yet briefly, and then everything stops—there’s a moment of silence, which is also how this powerful movement ends.

In 1911 when Sibelius wrote his Fourth Symphony it was considered to be strange and dark, yet today it’s regarded as one of his greatest masterpieces.

The struggle ends in the final movement of the Fourth Symphony, yet many conductors emphasize its unsettling nature. Osmo Vänskä on the other hand has a more uplifting view, “We are now moving in deep waters: the music tells us that life goes on despite difficulties. We are in the hands of God,” Vänskä concludes, “Divine power can not be excluded.”

Thirty years after writing his Fourth Symphony, Sibelius wrote, “I am pleased that I did it, for even today I cannot find a single note in it that I could remove, nor can I find anything to add. This gives me strength and satisfaction.” Something tells me Sibelius would also be quite pleased with the way Osmo Vänskä and the Minnesota Orchestra bring out every nuance in both the First and the Fourth Symphony. © 2013 Minnesota Public Radio

Naxos Records, a member of the Naxos Music Group