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A Survey of Sibelius Cycles

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 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 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 has been added.

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 12/01/2013: 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 19/01/2013: Colin Davis' second (first LSO) cycle is being re-issued and already available in Europe.

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.


Matt said...

I snapped up the Berglund/Bournemouth cycle the moment EMI released it digitally for $10. (It's now a couple bucks more.)

Believe it or not, Amazon offers an even better bargain for Sibelians. The Vanska/Lahti set you list, in a specially-packaged and -promoted digital-only edition, is just $7.99. And it comes with some good fillers too--the violin concerto, karelia suite, and more.

I believe this is the same set of recordings that forms the basis of the recent impressive and exhaustive BIS Sibelius Edition. This is very well performed and well-recorded, and pretty idiomatic. It's a little bit of a departure from the romantic (Segerstam/Helsinki) and classical (Davis/BSO), but refreshing.

Anonymous said...

Do you really find the Segerstam II approach (certainly romantic) so different from Davis I? I can't get myself to think of the latter as "classical"...


Matt said...

I know I am in the minority, but that's how it sounds to my ears. That said, to me everyone sounds "classical" next to Segerstam--perhaps even Bernstein/VPO!

I'll have to turn back to it to re-evaluate. But I've just bought a few more cycles (Abravenal/Utah, Barbirolli/Hallé, and Jarvi/Gothenberg I) I'm planning to digest first.

I haven't taken the plunge yet (must show at least some restraint in this area), but I see Brilliant Classics has re-released the Sanderling/BPO cycle at a typically favorable price--$11.99 with a lot of extras by another ensemble. You might adjust your listing accordingly.

Matt said...

And...the deals for Sibelius fans just keep coming this year. The Paavo Berglund/Chamber Orchestra of Europe cycle is still elusive on CD in the US, but it has just been made available on iTunes and Amazon for a bargain price--under $12 at this writing.

Guess I'll have to add that to my "to listen" list.

Facade19 said...

Just bought both Berglund/COE and Vanska/Lahti MP3 deals on amazon. Had the Maazel cycle for 5 years now and barely acknowledged it. To my great shame I was too dismissive of Sibelius and was fully absorbed with Mahler and Shostakovich. There is life beyond Mahler. I am so glad I am finally coming to Sibelius. Such beautiful and modern compositions. I plan on getting more cycles and delve deeper away from this slumber. Oh my Sibelius' violin concerto is my favorite violin concerto. Had to throw this in here.

jfl said...

Abravenal has a Sibelius cycle? And I missed it? Darnit. Thanks for pointing it out.

Good to hear that it's easier to get the Berglund III now. And very happy to read that Facade 19 has peeked behind the DSCH-Mahler front to discover the also great Sibelius! Enjoy!

Matt said...

Here is another new Sibelius cycle, from John Storgårds and the BBC Philharmonic, courtesy of Chandos. As much as I've enjoyed Storgårds' mini Madetoja cycle, I can't say I've been as thrilled with the Sibelius.

I understand that Okko Kamu and the Lahti Symphony are recording another cycle for BIS, expected to be released next year for Sibelius's sesquicentennial.

jfl said...

Thanks for the info. Noticed the Storgårds cycle and promptly forgot about it. But haven't heard it, either. Will be added shortly. Cheers,


Anonymous said...

Missing the fine Sibelius cycle from Inkinen (NAXOS) just aviable as 4 single disks !

jfl said...

Inkinen has finished his cycle? I liked very much of what I had heard so far, but I think those may have been works other than the symphonies. Thanks for pointing it out... shall be added promptly! Cheers,