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Label : EMI
Format : Flac (image + cue)
Cover : Yes

What a great set this is: thirteen discs chock full of masterful performances, many of which have already been praised here. EMI has not included any of Berglund’s Sibelius symphonies (except the Helsinki Kullervo) since they have been issued elsewhere, nor are there any concertos, which is a pity. But all of his Shostakovich symphonies for EMI (Nos. 5-7, 10, and 11) have finally been gathered together, including these benchmark performances of Nos. 6 and 11.

It’s also very good to learn from the booklet that Berglund’s favorite recording was his Ma vlast, with the Staatskapelle Dresden, a great performance that you can sample in our review of its single-disc reissue. The original Dvorák couplings are back, including an outstanding version of the rarely heard but masterful Third Slavonic Rhapsody. Listen and decide if the inspiration for this piece likely came from Berlioz–Le Corsair Overture specifically. Berglund’s Grieg is also uniformly excellent, and includes both Peer Gynt Suites, the Symphonic Dances, and the Old Norwegian Romance with Variations.

Berglund’s English music recordings, including Vaughan Williams’ Symphonies Nos. 4 and 6, have never been bettered. The performance of No. 4 remains the reference recording for that work, and Bliss’ Miracle in the Gorbels Suite is a welcome rarity. This Nielsen Fifth Symphony is lightyears better than the version in Berglund’s disappointing complete cycle for RCA, and who even remembers that he turned in a very impressive performance of Franck’s Symphony in D minor? Listen to the way in which he keeps the finale moving by paying special attention to the accompaniment running below the main theme. It’s really good.

Aside from Kullervo, Berglund’s Sibelius is represented by a selection of tone poems, mostly from the second, Helsinki Philharmonic cycle. These recordings were famously interrupted when EMI decided to issue Rattle’s lousy complete Sibelius cycle instead, and this box contains two recordings of Tapiola–with very different timings–thus demonstrating Berglund’s ongoing re-thinking even of music that he always conducted in masterly fashion. The sonics throughout are remarkably, consistently fine. This box constitutes a timely tribute (Berglund died in 2012) to a major artist, and anyone who cares about great conducting will want to hear it.

David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday.com

Swedish Rhapsody No. 1, Op. 19 ‘Midsommarvaka’
Elegy from ‘Gustav II Adolf’

Miracle in the Gorbals – Suite

Bull, O:
Saeterjentens Søndag (The Herdgirl’s Sunday)

Scherzo capriccioso, Op. 66
Slavonic Rhapsody, Op. 45 No. 3

Franck, C:
Symphony in D minor

Grande valse de concert Op. 41

Valse-Fantaisie in B minor for orchestra, G. ii213

Peer Gynt Suites Nos. 1 & 2
Symphonic Dances (4), Op. 64
Old Norwegian Romance with Variations, Op. 51

Bojarernes Indtogsmarsj (Entry of the Boyars)


Symphony No. 5, Op. 50 (FS97)

Summer Night: Suite from ‘The Duenna’ Op. 123

Rimsky Korsakov:
May Night Overture
Le Coq d’Or Suite

Moldavian Dance – ‘Liana’

Symphony No. 5 in D minor, Op. 47
Symphony No. 6 in B minor, Op. 54
Symphony No. 10 in E minor, Op. 93
Symphony No. 7 in C major, Op. 60 ‘Leningrad’
Symphony No. 11 in G minor, Op. 103 ‘The year 1905’

Finlandia, Op. 26
Tapiola, Op. 112
Lemminkäinen Suite, Op. 22: The Swan of Tuonela (No. 2)
Lemminkäinen Suite, Op. 22: Lemminkäinen’s Return (No. 4)
Valse Triste, Op. 44 No. 1
The Oceanides, Op. 73
Finlandia, Op. 26
Tapiola, Op. 112
Kullervo, Op. 7

Má Vlast

Vaughan Williams:
Symphony No. 4 in F minor
The Lark Ascending
Oboe Concerto in A minor
Symphony No. 6 in E minor

Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra, Philharmonia Orchestra, Staatskapelle Dresden, Paavo Berglund