18 April 2009

Sibelius complete

From the time he founded BIS records in 1973, Managing Director Robert von Bahr had a dream of recording the complete works (‘every note he ever wrote’) of the great Finnish composer Jean Sibelius.

Sibelius’s seven symphonies and his wonderful violin concerto have been recorded many times over the years, and tone poems like Tapiola, Oceanides and Pohjola’s Daughter are well known. What is less well known is the mass of works of other genre – piano music, chamber works, songs, theatre music, cantatas and songs.

In 2007, the 50th anniversary of Sibelius’s death, BIS began releasing the fruits of the years of work that went into this great project, and they are now about half way through, having released seven of the thirteen volumes that will see its completion.

As well as the published works the edition includes rare original versions and world première recordings of works from Sibelius’s youth, material that is largely unique to BIS. The edition, a grand total of 65 discs, contains previously released as well as new material, sorted by genre in volumes of 4-6 discs.

I have sampled Volume 1 (Tone Poems), of which the Financial Times reviewer commented “To hear Osmo Vänskä conducting Jean Sibelius is to change one's view of the music.” The performances and the sound quality are superb.

In Life is beautiful: Presto Classical I have previously introduced my preferred online classical music site. From now until 3 June Presto Classical is offering 25% off all BIS recordings (see Presto Classical BIS) and of course for deliveries outside the European Union you pay no VAT. Postage and handling for delivery to Australia is £2.00 for the first item and £1.00 for each additional item. To access the available offerings from the Sibelius project go to BIS The Sibelius Complete Edition.

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