SIBELIUS: Symphony No. 2 in D Major, Op. 43; Symphony No. 5 in E-flat Major, Op. 82; Alla marcia from Karelia Suite, Op. 11 – London Philharmonic Orchestra/Basil Cameron (Op. 43)/Erich Leinsdorf 
- Dutton

by | Dec 30, 2008 | Classical Reissue Reviews | 0 comments

SIBELIUS: Symphony No. 2 in D Major, Op. 43; Symphony No. 5 in E-flat Major, Op. 82; Alla marcia from Karelia Suite, Op. 11 – London Philharmonic Orchestra/Basil Cameron (Op. 43) /Erich Leinsdorf

Dutton CDBP 9788, 69:03 [Distrib. by Harmonia mundi] **** :

Two post-WW II Sibelius inscriptions grace this disc, off-the-beaten-path perspectives on repertory that had been traversed by more familiar interpreters like Kajanus, Koussevitzky, and Beecham. Basil Cameron (1884-1975) left a small number of recordings, some important, such as his association with pianists like Benno Moiseiwitsch. Cameron (his actual name, Hindenberg, he dropped, adopting his mother‘s maiden name) led premiers of the Bax Fourth Symphony and the Britten Violin Concerto. Cameron recorded the Sibelius D Major Symphony 30 December 1947, and it proceeds with unexaggerated but poignant energy. Horn and woodwind work from the LPO captures the modal, angular power of the first movement, which has its own ideas about sonata-form. We might recall it was Cameron who introduced the Four Lemminkainen Legends in their final form in 1950.  The Aeolian second movement, though lacking in the pungency of expression Koussevitzky bestowed on the pizzicato basses and horn attacks, still imparts a Northern mystery and spatial aloofness to the score, and the phrasing remains thoroughly stylistic. The Vivacissimo enjoys liquid phrasing from oboe and horn, and some heated virtuosity; immediately it moves to the heroic Allegro moderato finale, a paean to Nature that here suggests more of the intimate than the colossal.

Erich Leinsdorf (1912-1993) came to England just at the beginning of his tenure with the Rochester Philharmonic, having already served with the MET and at Salzburg in operatic repertoire. His E-flat Symphony and March from Karelia (10 July 1946) indicate a strong Toscanini influence, with lean, forward propulsion and etched clarity of textures. Britain had not had a Sibelius E-flat since the golden days of Kajanus and Koussevitzky; so Leinsdorf’s driven, intelligent account found a responsive audience. His operatic experience in voice-leading serves Leinsdorf well in this piece, which demands so much of orchestral stretti seeking their liberation. No less palpable rings the air of Northern mystery in the strings, as the music forms a vivid arch in the first movement. Nice attention to color detail marks the Andante, unhurried, its tension and resigned lyricism held on long, flexible wires. The last movement again combines a vivacious Scherzo with a brassy, stentorian, march motif that builds to a resounding peroration. Like the short excerpt from Karelia that follows, we find in Leinsdorf only happy, often fleet, surprises at his innate sympathy for this music, with which he would otherwise not have been associated.

–Gary Lemco

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