Classical Music Home

Welcome to Naxos Records

Keyword Search
 Classical Music Home > Naxos Album Reviews

Album Reviews

See latest reviews of other albums...

Rob Barnett
MusicWeb International, October 2017

These three landmark premiere recordings have not appeared together before. While the Schnéevoigt 6 and Koussevitsky 7 are familiar presences, the Stokowski Fourth is much less so. …It’s a very impressive-sounding version even if it is played by a cut-down orchestra who compensate with a plenitude of pleasing new-minted detail. I ‘learnt’ the work from a DG cassette of Karajan and the BPO recorded in the 1960s. Stokowski is quite different. There is less of the gruffly impetuous in Stokowski and more of a glow—lit from within. He opts for glockenspiel and then tubular bells in the finale and this makes quite an impact when compared with the rest of the pack. The quicksilver cello solos near the finale’s start are much less rapid yet things are held together unerringly. It’s as if we are hearing the work afresh—re-imagined. Stokowski romanticises the symphony in a way that I find very satisfying. It makes for an intriguing listen, as is often the case with this conductor.

The Schnéevoigt Sixth has been issued several times… It’s good to have it again and in such intriguing company. …Schnéevoigt’s yielding steel and athletic urgency conveys a constant and exalting sense of pressing forward. © 2017 MusicWeb International Read complete review

Richard A. Kaplan
Fanfare, September 2013

All three recordings, it turns out, are of more than documentary interest.

These historic recordings…belong in the collection of any serious student of Sibelius’s music…This CD…is one of the last of its breed; don’t miss it. © 2013 Fanfare Read complete review

Jean-Charles Hoffelé
Diapason, July 2013

Perfect transfers signed by Mark-Obert-Thorn for this fourth volume of a winning series © Diapason

David Radcliffe
American Record Guide, July 2013

These classic performances have all been reissued before but not together on a single disc. Any one of them would justify the purchase but together they are irresistible: Stokowski best for mood, Schneevoigt for authenticity, Koussevitzky for drama, all quite stunning. The time when these recordings were made (1932-34) marked the apex in Sibelius’s popularity—and corresponded with the peak of a great epoch in orchestral conducting. © 2013 American Record Guide

Antony Hodgson
Classical Recordings Quarterly, July 2013

The recording [of No 4] is certainly acceptable with excellent woodwind, convincing overall balance, natural-sounding timpani…There is much detail in the wispy Scherzo.

The intensity of Koussevitzky’s reading [of No 7] is remarkable: this is the performance that years ago convinced me of the greatness of the symphony…The basic sound is good for its period, the instruments are captured convincingly and the hushed passages are magical. © 2013 Classical Recordings Quarterly

Vesa Sirén
Helsingin Sanomat, April 2013

Naxos has successfully managed to include a total of three premiere recordings of Sibelius symphonies from 1932-34 into a single disc. The sound of scratches have been minimized, the echoes are louder.

Leopold Stokowski and the Philadelphia Orchestra have a fine rendition of the 4th symphony from 1932, with only half of the string instruments. In the finale glockenspiel has been suddenly switched into bells, and a few surprises are brought by sudden slowdowns. ‘Stokowski exaggerates’, exclaimed Sibelius.

In his handsome concert recording with the BBC Symphony Orchestra from 1933 Serge Koussevitzky added an additional trumpet to support the melody of the strings in the last bar of the score, even though Sibelius considered that the magic of Koussevitzky was based on the concept of not pressing the strings too low.

Georg Schnéevoigt and the ‘Finnish National Orchestra’, ie the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra, bring the recording of the 6th symphony into a true international level, thanks to some very hard drilling. Sibelius accepted this studio recording made in London 1934, even though he was shocked by the live performances of the orchestra during the very same tour. © 2013 Helsingin Sanomat

David Denton
David's Review Corner, March 2013

As an adjunct to Robert Kajanus’s incomplete cycle of Sibelius symphonies, we have collected together a reissue of considerable historic importance. Sadly Kajanus’s death had robbed the musical world of these three symphonies that would have formed an impeachable link with the composer with whom he had enjoyed such a lasting friendship. Maybe the quirky reputation that Leopold Stokowski often brought on himself should preclude his account of the Fourth, yet it grips attention from the first few bars, and if we quibble about some of his tempo choices, the RCA recording team produced for him a sound far in advance of its 1932 recording date. The Philadelphia were some way from the icy blasts of Finland, but technically they were a fine orchestra. It is only when you turn to the Finnish National that you realise the intrinsic sounds that emanated from the composer’s compatriots. The conductor, Georg Schneevoigt, was little known internationally at the time of recording (1934), but he had shared in Sibelius’s confidences. You will no doubt have raised eyebrows as he hurtles through the scherzo, and as a whole the account has a feeling of urgency blown on by the icy wind. It was afforded good sound in EMI’s Abbey Road Studio, though the timpani are rather backwards to modern ears. The Seventh is conducted by Serge Koussevitzky who had shown considerable empathy with the composer. It was recorded at a concert in London’s Queen’s Hall with the BBC Symphony. With the scrupulous honesty of this series, the shortcomings of the original material is stated, but to my ears it is a wonderful piece of restoration. © David’s Review Corner

Naxos Records, a member of the Naxos Music Group