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6 Degrees Entertainment

Title - 'Sibelius The Complete Symphonies' [6 LP]
Artist - Anthony Collins

For those not in the classical know, Jean Sibelius (actually born Johan Julius Christian Sibelius in 1865), was a Finnish violinist and composer of the late Romantic and early-modern periods. Widely recognized as his country's national composer, Sibelius is often credited for supporting the rise of the Finnish national identity in the country's struggle for independence.

Sibelius thought in terms of orchestral sonorities, not in those of the smaller-scale keyboard. He used an existing vocabulary, but in so highly idiosyncratic a manner that no attempt to imitate it can succeed. Indeed, as Vaughan Williams put it in a ninetieth birthday BBC tribute that I remember hearing, he had the capacity to make a C major chord sound entirely new. Take, for example, the D minor-cum-modal cadence that ends the Sixth Symphony or the haunting B minor chords that end Tapiola. They sound like no other composer.

As for celebrated Conductor, Anthony Collins, well, he was born in Hastings, East Sussex in 1893. At the age of seventeen he began to perform as violinist in the Hastings Municipal Orchestra. He then served four years in the army. Beginning in 1920 he studied violin with Achille Rivarde and composition with Gustav Holst at the Royal College of Music. In 1926, he began his musical career performing as principal viola in the London Symphony Orchestra.

For ten years he performed in that orchestra and also in the Royal Opera House Covent Garden Orchestra. He resigned these positions in 1936. For the rest of his career he divided his time between conducting, beginning with opera and moving to orchestra; and composition. His conducting debut was on 20 January 1938, when he led his former colleagues in the London Symphony Orchestra in Elgar's 1st symphony, and the following year he founded the London Mozart Orchestra.

He moved to the United States in 1939 to conduct orchestras in Los Angeles and New York as well as composing film music for RKO Pictures. He was nominated for three Academy Awards for best music and original score in three consecutive years (19401942) for Nurse Edith Cavell, Irene and Sunny. He returned to England in 1945, continuing to conduct the major British orchestras and also compose for British film studios. He retired at the end of the 1950s, returning to Los Angeles, where he died at the age of 70 in 1963.

Recorded between 1952 and 1955, these Sibelius: The Complete Symphonies ffrr recordings from the Mono era represent the first complete collection of the Sibelius symphonies. The project was initiated by Victor Olof, a legendary Decca producer, who had the foresight to select one of the prominent conductors of the past century, Anthony Collins.

Notably, this is not only the first complete Sibelius cycle, but also one of the very few recording projects consulted with the composer himself. Before the beginning of the project, Collins sought the composers advice and in response to a lengthy telegram of detailed questions received in reply: Conductor must have liberty to get performance living.

Due in equal parts to the transparency and depth of Deccas ffrr (full frequency range recording) technique, and the precision and excellence of the London Symphonys playing, Collins recordings reveal the sheer wonder of the scores shifting textures that prior recordings could not capture.

Combined with Collins sense of excitement and inspiration, these recordings form a set of historical significance that has stood the test of time.

Due to the fact that this is a Numbered/Limited Edition, 6LP Box-Set, allow me to detail what you are to expect for your hard earned dollars here. It is housed in what is called a "Lift-off lid" box and contains brand new notes by Sibelius specialist Robert Layton. Indeed, the recordings that helped to bring Sibelius in from the cold in the fifties have stood the test of time are now here for one and all to enjoy.

The record companies are all busy with reissues to note the 150th anniversary of the birth of Jean Sibelius. Kudos to Decca for coming up with the relatively novel idea of gathering together the Sibelius records the label recorded between 1952 and 1955! They could have gone the DG route and cobbled together the usual stuff that has already been reissued countless times on CD, but they didn't. Kudos to you, Decca. Kudos!