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Richard A. Kaplan
Fanfare, November 2013

SIBELIUS, J.: Symphony No. 1 / Pohjola's Daughter / Tapiola (Kajanus Conducts Sibelius, Vol. 1) (1930-1932) 8.111393
SIBELIUS, J.: Symphony No. 2 / Belshazzar's Feast Suite / Karelia Suite (excerpts) (Kajanus Conducts Sibelius, Vol. 2) (1930-1932) 8.111394
SIBELIUS, J.: Symphonies Nos. 3 and 5 / Jager March (Kajanus Conducts Sibelius, Vol. 3) (1928, 1932) 8.111395

…we have, on three discs, the complete Sibelius recordings by his first great interpreter, Robert Kajanus, all premiere recordings and as close to horse’s mouth as there is for this composer, in Mark Obert-Thorn’s exemplary transfers. © 2013 Fanfare

Richard A. Kaplan
Fanfare, July 2013

SIBELIUS, J.: Symphony No. 2 / Belshazzar's Feast Suite / Karelia Suite (excerpts) (Kajanus Conducts Sibelius, Vol. 2) (1930-1932) 8.111394
SIBELIUS, J.: Symphonies Nos. 3 and 5 / Jager March (Kajanus Conducts Sibelius, Vol. 3) (1928, 1932) 8.111395

These two CDs complete Naxos’s edition of the Sibelius recordings by his compatriot and friend Robert Kajanus…

Transfers are by Mark Obert-Thorn, who had multiple copies of the 78s to work with. These versions supersede his earlier transfers…In the Columbia items, Naxos has less high-frequency noise and an overall more-balanced frequency response…these discs are essential for any serious Sibelius collector.

My advice: Buy them while you can. © 2013 Fanfare Read complete review

Rob Barnett
MusicWeb International, March 2013

The programme is artfully sequenced. First we get the fey and fragile exotica, glistening fantasy and wan orientalism of Belshazzar's Feast. Then come the exuberant outer movements of the Karelia Suite

Phrasing is nicely sculpted throughout.

The notes by Colin Anderson are spot-on and there is an extended introduction by Mark Obert-Thorn…

Sibelius voiced by the composer’s chosen conductor in the best sounding transfers yet. © 2013 MusicWeb International Read complete review

Gary Lemco
Audiophile Audition, January 2013

The disc opens with the Belshazzar’s Feast Suite…Kajanus elicits an array of distinctive colors from the LSO, beginning with the “Oriental Procession” and the lovely flute sequence from Night Music.

The performance [of the Alla marcia] quite sparkles with élan and joie de vivre, the music confident under the helm of a master colorist.

…Kajanus leads an exemplary Symphony No. 2 in D Major…The sheer whirl of the running string parts provides a spectacular example of orchestral discipline…String trills, tympanic motion, and an exquisite crescendo form a devastating arch upon which the brass comments in majestic terms. Rife with solemn tension, the music [of the Andante movement] builds under Kajanus’ skillful direction to explode episodically in emotional paroxysm or bucolic ecstasy, a study in spirited pantheism. The seraphic repose Kajanus can communicate in such dynamically contrasting sections without loss of musical continuity proves outstanding, and the woodwind work suggests the old RPO enjoyed a wealth of talented principals. Another whirlwind emerges via the Vivacissimo movement…More pageantry and somber processionals mark the last movement, Allegro moderato, with its splendid chorale-like hymn to Nature or the Fatherland…

Heartily recommended to all Sibelius enthusiasts… © 2013 Audiophile Audition Read complete review

David Denton
David's Review Corner, January 2013

The second release in a series of Sibelius symphonies conducted by Robert Kajanus, a composer whose music had a major impact on the young Sibelius. The two had become good friends, Kajanus role in charge of the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra for over fifty years furthering the interests of the young man. But it was in London Kajanus made his major contribution to Sibelius, when, in the early 1930’s, a series of recordings, with two of England’s most prestigious orchestras, were originally funded by the Finnish government.  Sadly Kajanus died in 1933 at the age of seventy-seven, leaving the project unfinished, though by then he had given the world the interpretations that we believe Sibelius would have wished. You will be surprised with the urgency of the opening of the Second Symphony, the performance of the whole movement knocking minutes off of many modern recordings. The following andante would, in lesser hands, be described as rushed; the scherzo more in line with current performances, and the broad tempos we now hear, as we move into the finale never occurring. Where any of these tempos massaged to fit movements onto the time available on disc sides, and was the brass kept at such a low voltage by Kajanus or the sound engineering? There was, at the time, just two movements from Karalia Suite—the Intermezzo and March—that were obviously thought sufficiently commercial for release on disc. Just two years later, in 1932, the sound was already improving for Belshazzar’s Feast, the London Symphony sounding a distinct cut above the RPO in its pre-Beecham days. Mark Obert-Thorn has had the benefit of good pressings for his transfers, the relative absence of disc surface noise a credit to his fastidious workmanship. © 2013 David’s Review Corner

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