Maestro Barbirolli in a '64 Sibelius Second, one to rival his well-known RPO & Halle accounts.
Symphony Nr. 2, Opus 43
Boston Symphony Orchestra
John Barbirolli, conductor
30 October 1964 broadcast
Symphony Hall, Boston MA
Annie (short for Anonymous) sent me this, when I mentioned being an avowed Barbirolli groupie. Sir John Barbirolli never fails me. His recordings always exude a romantic impulse throughout, which the orchestras respond to quite audibly; such it is in this case as well. The expanses that open at around 6:00 into the first movement have turns on a dime, in ways that cannot be written into a score but must be felt and transmitted though the borderline-fictitious magic of conductorship. His footstamped grunts at 6:45 and 7:08 are the pockmarks, evidence of the presence of authentic leather, it happens.
The snowstorm of tension at 5:40 is a marvel of Boston Symphony string prowess. There are, few and far between to be sure, tiny bits of ensemble discombobulation but these come at times when they are at the service of a set-up for a larger swath of sonic narrative. The conductor sounds like he's taking a few risks and liberties that may not have been completely planned, and they feel right;
these are spurts or colors that add to the enjoyment of a deeply considered, living performance.
Overall, this Sibelius 2 is everything I look for -and so often find- in a Glorious John joint.
So I'm sentimental. I love Barbirolli for it.
The complete program of this concert was
[Berlioz: Carnaval romain, Overture
Delius: A Village Romeo and Juliet
Vaughan-Williams: Symphony Nº 6]
Sibelius: Symphony Nº 2
[++UPDATE: Hornsby's struck again! Progress Hornsby sent me the Delius and Vahugan-WIll
iams from the concert which I will soon post; we wonder if anyone out there has the Berlioz?]
Our generous source for this broadcast recording, who wishes anonymity, notes:
"...This tape has sat in a garage for over 30 years, but the sound is pretty good (a little bright and hissy)..."
Thanks, again, Annie. Sorry I couldn't offer this a few weeks earlier to catch Barbirolli's birthday, but here it is as a late present for that, and an early one for these holidays.
While the performance is, as usual, in the comments,
Joe was kind enough to put the info together into a nifty, ready to print covers inlay, available here:
Enjoy, play it loud and pay it forward!