September 2001

Oramo: "Best Sibelius's Fifth"

A new recording of Sibelius's Fifth Symphony gets a rave review in Helsingin Sanomat (16 September 2001). Music critic Veijo Murtomäki writes that Sakari Oramo's interpretation is "genius-like" and the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra's playing is "dizzyingly good".

Murtomäki says that not since Kajanus's recording (EMI, 1932) has there been an "equally well-worked and assured performance of Sibelius's possibly greatest symphony".

"The opening woodwind solos of the symphony are deliciously classy, the strings in the finale incomprehensibly perfect. The recording by Erato label is top quality of our time: both clear and juicily full-sounded.

"Oramo is the only conductor I know who begins the symphony using the tempo clearly marked by Sibelius. This tempo is faster than that we have become used to and it turns the opening part into such a passionately rising crescendo that it brings tears to the listener's eyes.

"Which doesn't mean that the slow part doesn't sound great and important nor that the swan theme in the finale doesn't get enough air under the wings. It does: it moves and sounds with such authority that one can understand why Birmingham chose this conductor.

"With this recording, Sakari Oramo joins the elite of Sibelius interpreters. He is one of the most interesting conductors of our time. In his art, he combines Celibidache's worship of sound and precision and Furtwängler's unrelenting commitment.

"One proof of Oramo's talent is that the popular bonus of the recording, Sibelius's Karelia Suite, sounds not only like a classic disco hit but a living work of art, especially in the often tiresome Ballad."

Murtomäki also reviews a new Sibelius CD by Sir Colin Davis with the London Symphony Orchestra. The critic says that with this CD, Davis has produced one of the best recordings of Lemminkäinen Suite, the Tuonela part possibly the best available.

Both Oramo and Davis's recordings include The Bard and Pohjola's Daughter. As for the latter, Murtomäki thinks that Oramo's interpretation comes out top. On The Bard, the critic thinks that the two interpretations are equal.

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