Discographies on ionarts: Bach Organ Cycles | Beethoven Piano Sonata Cycles I, II, III, IV, V, VI, VII, VIII, IX | Bruckner Symphony Cycles | Dvořák Symphony Cycles | Shostakovich Symphony Cycles | Sibelius Symphony Cycles
Update 01/12/2016: This survey, the first I wrote for ionarts, has been completely revamped and been put into an order, namely alphabetical, by conductor. This can be cumbersome when updating, but it is the easiest to search. Initially, only readily available cycles were meant to be included in these surveys, but they have grown a little more ambitious, since. This brings about the addition of Jukka-Pekka Saraste’s first cycle on RCA (1987-88), which is very much oop. Saraste’s second cycle was recorded live in St. Petersburg. The individual releases on Warner-Teldec-Apex and Finlandia (the latter covers almost all the smaller orchestral works as well as the Violin Concerto and the Humoresques by other conductors and orchestras) are identical to the set that proclaims “live from St. Petersburg” (1993). It also means that I have included the first cycle of Akeo Watanabe, from 1962 (the first in stereo, paceLeonard Bernstein), even though it never made it from its Sony/Epic LPs onto CD. I have not (yet?) added Paavo Berglund’s Sibelius recordings with the LPO, although arguably they are as much an incomplete cycle as Bernstein’s Vienna one, with four symphonies. You can find it here; it would have been his 4th.
Update 01/11/2016: Three new cycles added: Adrian Leaper’s on Naxos (their first), which I had simply overlooked. (Did Leaper record a complete cycle with the Orquesta Filharmonica de Gran Canaria on Arte Nova?.) Hannu Lintu’s DVD-cycle on ArtHaus Musik has been added, which comes with introductions to the symphonies which I have been reliably told are very good and involving. Also the incomplete-yet-stuffed Philadelphia cycle of Ormandy’s which lacks symphonies 3 and 6 but contains 1, 2, and 7 twice and a bunch of other Sibelius. The Anthony Collins cycle has been re-issued in the Decca "Great Performances" box; Lorin Maazel I (Decca/Vienna) has been re-issued on CD and Blu-ray; Bernstein I (Sony/New York) has been remastered for CD.
Update 09/28/2015: Four new cycles added! Pietari Inkinen’s first cycle, recorded with the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra for Naxos, is finished (and has been for a while). It’s available on individual discs, but not yet boxed. Meanwhile he's already recorded a new cycle with the Japan Philharmonic Orchestra, of which he's just been named the new Chief Conductor.
Also brand new (but not yet available on Amazon) Sir Simon Rattle’s brand new cycle performed, recorded, and filmed at the Philharmonie in Berlin with his Berliners. The set, as all the BPh’s own such sets, is lavish, includes high resolution audio and video options (though not SACD), and fits on no CD or book-shelf of man’s creation, thus offering a bit of a conundrum.
And, on SACD from BIS, a new set with the Lahti SO, this time under Okko Kamu, also known as the guy who 'finished' Karajan's Sibelius Cycle for Deutsche Grammophon.
Update 03/12/2015: HvK's not-quite-complete cycle on EMI (now Warner) is now in one box, remastered, shiny, and available. A completely new addition is the Arvo Volmer cycle from Adelaide on ABC Classics! It's about 10 to 5 years old, by my reckoning, and the first down-under Sibelius cycle.
Update 24/02/2015: Abranavel's has been released on Musical Concepts. Who knew. It's been added accordingly.
Update 12/01/2014: John Storgårds' new cycle, recorded live with the BBC Philharmonic on Chandos, has been added.
Update 19/01/2013: Colin Davis' second (first LSO) cycle is being re-issued and already available in Europe.
Update 12/01/2013: Abranavel's, Karajan and Bernstein's incomplete, and Ashkenazy's Stockholm cycle added. Links and images updated and Amazon-links internationalized. Ionarts's Choice cycles updated. Misdirecting links double-checked after initial posting.
Update 04/01/2013: Paavo Berglund's first cycle with the Bournemouth SO, long out of print, has been re-issued as a super-basement bargain by EMI. It's been included below, replacing the Royal Classics release.
Update 12/12/2012: Colin Davis' third cycle (on LSO Live) is out in a box and has been included below. His first cycle has been boxed by Decca, and has been added in place of the two Philips twofers. To keep the symmetry, Sixten Ehrling's Stockholm cycle (available on German Amazon and on HMV.co.jp) has been added.
Like the Beethoven Piano Sonata Cycle Survey, this is a mere "inventory" of what has been recorded and whether it is still available. Favorites are denoted with the "ionarts' choice" graphic.
UK | DE | FR
UNITEL DVDs ~$30
UK | DE | FR
Royal Stockholm PO
UK | DE | FR