Pierre Monteux often bemoaned the fact that he was associated with the French and Russian repertoires, to the exclusion of music from outside of those traditions. He could hardly help it; after all, it was Monteux who conducted the first and famously chaotic performance of Stravinsky’s ‘Le Sacre du printemps‘ in 1913. Nevertheless, he recorded all of Beethoven’s symphonies (some of them more than once) and all of Brahms’ with the exception of the Fourth. He made only one recording of Sibelius’ Second. This came late in his career, in 1959 and was the only commercial recording he made of this composer’s music. Monteux conducts the score with evident affection and with a lush romanticism that suggests the Mediterranean more than the cold waters of the Baltic Sea.
Receiving its first international release on CD is Lorin Maazel’s recording of the ‘Karelia Suite’, made around the same time as his Vienna Philharmonic Sibelius cycle. Together with Monteux’s Sibelius Second, it is one of the most-requested reissues from the Decca catalogue.
Symphony No. 2 in D major, Op. 45
London Symphony Orchestra
Karelia Suite, Op. 11
Recording Producers: John Culshaw (Symphony); Erik Smith (Karelia)
Balance Engineers: Kenneth Wilkinson (Symphony); Gordon Parry (Karelia)
Recording Locations: Kingsway Hall, London, UK, June 1958 (Symphony); Sofiensaal, Vienna, Austria, March 1963 (Karelia)
‘well-paced and finely-conceived … fresh recording quality and admirable body’ (Symphony) Gramophone
‘I have been impressed by the sheer quality of the sound. It is bright without being overlit, rich without being excessively opulent, clean without being clinical: it is remarkably vivid and lifelike, a tribute to the Decca engineers of the day … The Vienna Philharmonic plays superbly well and Maazel’s reading of the Karelia Suite has an authentic flavour and has genuine atmosphere’ (Karelia Suite) Gramophone