SIBELIUS: Kaiutar, Op. 72 No. 4. Luonnotar, Op. 70. Men
min fagel märks dock icke, Op. 36 No. 2. Säv, säv susa, Op. 36 No. 4. Demanten
Op. 36 No. 6. Varen flyktar hastigt, Op. 13 No. 4. Under
strandens granar, Op. 13 No. 1. Den första kyssen, Op. 37 No. 1. Soluppgang, Op. 37 No. 3.
Var det en dröm? Op. 37 No. 4. Höstkväll, Op. 38 No. 1. Pa
verandan vid havet, Op. 38 No. 2. Arioso, Op. 3. Illalle, Op. 17 No. 6. Lastu
Op. 17 No. 7. Souda, souda sinisorsa. S;en har jag ej fragat mera, Op.
17 No. 1. En slända, Op. 17 No. 5. Hertig Magnus, Op. 57 No. 6.
BEETHOVEN: Violin Concerto in D, Op. 61. BRUCH: Violin Concerto No.
1 in G minor, Op. 26.
BRAHMS: Piano Concerto No. 2 in B flat, Op. 83. BEETHOVEN: Sonata
No. 8 in C minor, Op. 13 "Pathétique"
Some of Sibelius's finest music is to be found in his songs. This superb Ondine SACD offers a varied collection of these highlighted by Luonnotar which here is given one of its finest recordings. Sibelius composed this in 1912 for famed Finnish soprano Aino Ackté, who requested a work she could sing in concert along with the final scene from Salome. Finnish soprano Soile Isokoski, who already has to her credit one of the finest recordings of Strauss's Four Last Songs, sings her countryman's music with radiant beauty as well as power—she is right on in this demanding music—no slipping or sliding into notes here. Isokoski has the advantage of Leif Segerstam's insightful conducting and the splendid playing of the Helsinki Philharmonic. This is a memorable recording in every way, with splendid sonics as well. If you enjoy this repertory, don't miss the superb collection of Scandinavian songs, including many of the Sibelius songs on the new CD (but not Luonnotar) recorded in 1965 by the late Birgit Nilsson (see REVIEW).
Pentatone continues to provide treasures from the past. A major reissue is the 1974 recording of Beethoven's Violin Concerto played by Arthur Grumiaux with the Amsterdam Concertgebouw Orchestra directed by Sir Colin Davis. Grumiaux already had recorded this concerto with Eduard Van Beinum and the same orchestra in June 1957, but not in stereo. The Grumiaux/Davis recording has been issued several times in stereo but now we have it in the original four-track version. The stereo sound was superb, but this multi-channel version is magnificent; the listener is right in the best seat in the Concertgebouw. And the performance is perfection. Coupled with the Beethoven we have Bruch's Violin Concerto No. 1 with the Philharmonia Orchestra directed by Heinz Wallberg which was recorded in London's Wembly Brent Town Hall in September 1973. Again, a glorious performance, with wonderfully natural sonics. Also of value is Pentatone's release of Mischa Dichter's performances of Brahms and Beethoven, the Brahms recorded in June 1977, the Beethoven in May 1976. Dichter, who won the 1966 Tchaikovsky competition, has a distinguished career as soloist with orchestras, recitals and chamber music performances. Unfortunately, few of his many recordings are still in the catalog, so this issue is particularly welcome. The four-channel sound wonderfully captures the warm acoustics of Leipzig's Gewandhaus. Both of these SACDs are highly recommended.
R.E.B. (August 2006)