SIBELIUS:  Symphony No. 1 in E Minor, Op. 39.  Symphony No. 2 in D, Op. 43.  Symphony No. 3 in C, Op. 2.  Symphony No. 4 in A minor, Op. 63.  Symphony No. 5 in E Flat, Op. 82.  Symphony No. 6 in D Minor, Op. 104.  Symphony No. 7 in C, Op. 105. 
Helsinki Philharmonic Orch/Paavo Berglund, cond.
Our Own Land, Op. 92. The Origin of Fire, Op. 32. Kullervo, Op. 7.  The Oceanides, Op. 73.  Karelia Suite, Op. 11 (Intermezzo and March).  ScËnes historiques:  Suite No. 1, Op. 25.  Tapiola, Op. 112. Finlandia, Op. 26.  Serenade No. 1 in D, Op. 69a.  Serenade No. 2, Op. 69b. Luonnotar, Op. 70.  Pohjola's Daughter, Op. 49.  En saga, Op. 9. King Christian II, Op. 27.  The Bard, Op. 64. Spring Song, Op. 16.  Lemminkainen Legends, Op. 22 (The Swan of Tuonela and Lemminkainen's Return).  PellČas and Melisande Incidental Music.  Kuolema, Op. 44 (Valse triste & Scene with Cranes).  Swanwhite, Op. 54 (Incidental Music).
Jorma Hynninen, baritone (Origin of Fire); Raili Kostia, soprano and Usko Viitanen, baritone (Kullervo);  Taru Valjakka, soprano (Luonnotar); Ida Haendel, violin (Serenades); Academic Choral Society (Our Own Land); State Academic Male Choir of the Estonian SSR; Helsinki University Male Choir (The Origin of Fire/Kullervo); Bournemouth Symphony Orch/Paavo Berglund, cond.
EMI CLASSICS 74485 (8 CDs) (B) TT: 
 9 hrs. 13 min

BEETHOVEN:  Symphony No. 1 in C, Op. 21.  Symphony No. 2 in D, Op. 36.  Symphony No. 3 in E Flat, Op. 55 "Eroica."  Symphony No. 4 in B Flat, Op. 60.  Symphony No. 5 in C Minor, Op. 67.  Symphony No. 6 in F, Op. 68 "Pastorale."  Symphony No. 7 in A, Op. 92.  Symphony No. 8 in F, Op. 93.  Symphony No. 9 in D Minor, Op. 125 "Choral."  Grosse Fugue, Op. 133.  Leonore Overtures Op. 138, 72 and 72a.  Coriolan Overture, Op. 62. Prometheus Overture, Op. 43.  Piano Concerto No. 1 in C, Op. 15.  Piano Concerto No. 2 in B Flat, Op. 19.  Piano Concerto No. 3 in C Minor, Op. 37.  Piano Concerto No. 4 in G, Op. 58.  Piano Concerto No. 5 in E Flat, Op. 73 "Emperor."  Fantasia, Op. 80.
Aase Nordmo L–vberg, soprano; Christa Ludwig, mezzo-soprano; Waldemar Kmentt, tenor; Hans Hotter, baritone; Philharmonia Chorus; John Alldis Choir; Daniel Barenboim, pianist; Philharmonia Orch/Otto Klemperer, cond.
EMI CLASSICS 73895 (9 CDs) (ADD) (B) TT: 11 hrs. 1 min.


MAHLER:  Symphony No. 1 in D "Titan."  Symphony No. 2 in C Minor "Resurrection."  Symphony No. 3 in D Minor.  Symphony No. 4 in G.  Symphony No. 5 in C# Minor.  Symphony No. 6 in A Minor "Tragic."  Symphony No. 7 in E Minor "Song of the Night."  Symphony No. 8 in E Flat "Symphony of a Thousand."  Symphony No. 9 in D Minor.  Adagio from Symphony No. 10.
Edith Mathis, soprano; Doris Soffel, mezzo-soprano (Sym. 2); Otrun Wenkel, contralto (Sym. 3); Lucia Popp, soprano (Sym. 4); Elizabeth Connell, Edith Wiens and Felicity Lott, sopranos; Tudeliese Schmidt and Nadine Denize, contraltos; Richard Versalle, tenor; Jorma Hynninen, baritone; Hans Sotin, bass (Sym. 8).  Ladies of the London Philharmonic Choir; Southend Boy's Choir (Sym. 3); Tiffin School Boys' Choir; London Philharmonic Choir; David Hill, organ (Sym. 8)
London Philharmonic Orch/Klaus Tennstedt, cond.
EMI CLASSICS 72941 ( 11 CDs) (F) (ADD/DDD) TT: 12 hours 19 min.

Three more outstanding bargains for the collector, gathering together performances that have been praised over the years for their quality, authoritative interpretations and generally excellent sonics.

The Beethoven set is essential in any serious collection, offering Otto Klemperer's powerful interpretations of all nine symphonies produced by Walter Legge recorded with the Philharmonia Orchestra from 1955/1957 - plus the five piano concertos and Choral Fantasy with Daniel Barenboim.  The concertos are outstanding performances with Barenboim at his best, Klemperer unusually dynamic.  Excellent, well-balanced sound.

Paavo Berglund's ideas on Sibelius have been well documented on recordings.  He recorded all seven symphonies three times, first with the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, second with the Helsinki Philharmonic and more recently with the Chamber Orchestra of Europe.  The second set, recorded 1984-1987, is included here.  We also have his first (1971) recording of Kullervo, the composer's first major work, and the symphonic poem Tapiola, Op. 112, which was his last.  CD notes state that as this multiple-CD set includes both of these it presents "a comprehensive survey" of the composer's output, which is hardly true.  The great Violin Concerto isn't included (although the two violin Serenades with Ida Haendel - in their premiere recordings - are), we have only two of the Lemmink”inen Legends, and the familiar Karelia Suite lacks its middle movement.  However, what is here is outstanding.  You will not find a better recording of Luonnotar (with the magnificent Finnish soprano Taru Valjakka), and the two choral works (Oma maa and Tulen synty) are very welcome.  The symphonies and choral pieces are digital recordings, the remainder analog.

What a pleasure it is to have all of Tennstedt's Mahler symphonies together in one inexpensive package sounding better than ever.  Symphonies 1 (rec. 1977), 5 (rec. 1978), 9 (rec. 1979) and the Tenth Adagio (rec. 978) are analog recordings but there is little noticeable difference between analog and digital recordings.  Soloists in the Eighth sound rather taxed, and for recording purposes a smaller choruses was used - however there still is an appropriately big sound.  The only negative aspect to this issue is that it does not include Tennstedt's superb Das Lied von der Erde, with Agnes Baltsa and Klaus K–nig as sterling soloists.  All necessary texts are provided.

All three sets are terrific bargains.

R.E.B. (December 2002)