, October 2011
A revelatory cycle, repackaged with a bonus disc of alternative versions
Osmo Vänskä’s credentials as a first-rate Sibelian symphonic interpreter were confirmed in 1995 with the release of the Fifth Symphony in its 1915 version (4/96), so its presence in this complete set is most apt. It also gives the issue a huge advantage over all rivals which, of course, include the final Fifth. BIS has wisely redistributed the symphonies chronologically across the discs, rather than retaining the original dispositions (9/97, A/97, 12/97, 7/98). Taken together, this is a comprehensively original cycle, revealing without being controversial, direct in utterance yet precisely calculated. It is certainly, in my view, the finest survey of the past three decades…splendid sound makes this indispensable for all devotees of Sibelius.