Musical Opinion

I cannot recommend this CD too highly. Divine Art’s output is always full of surprises and their Historic Sound series is no exception.

I have been playing Kajanus’ recording of Sibelius’ Fifth Symphony on 78s since 1950, with rose thorns to give the best sound, and this dubbing is the first in modern sound to give me real satisfaction, together with a remarkably dramatic performance of Tapiola. Robert Kajanus was the first champion of Sibelius’ music and it was he who introduced Finlandia and other works to the Paris Exhibition audience, launching Finland as a musical nation and Sibelius as a genius. The recording with the London Symphony Orchestra was made on 28 June 1932 and few accounts of the Fifth Symphony are more dramatic in the horn theme of the finale.

The Sixth Symphony, often neglected and regarded as introverted, was recorded on 8 June 1934 by Finland’s leading orchestra under Georg Schnéevoigt, the other important Finnish conductor, who also made a reputation in Los Angeles. Here is a performance of a Sibelius work by the composer’s fellow musicians, whose understanding of his language produces such a fascinating interpretation.

If historic dubbings seem difficult to hear, give the CD extra time and you will find remarkable enjoyment and stimulus as your ears and brain adjust to the sound.

—Denby Richards