Thursday, December 24, 2009

Sibelius 2: Barbirolli & Boston SO 1964 broadcast

Maestro Barbirolli in a '64 Sibelius Second, one to rival his well-known RPO & Halle accounts.

Jean Sibelius
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!



Guillermo said...

Three mp3s inside of one folder housed on mediafire:

maready said...


It's always a long wait between Statework posts, but I know that that is because of your incredibly high standards ... I'm just downloading this now and look forward to hearing it --- excellent 'cover' art as well!

I shouldn't complain about the 'wait': I'm still recovering from the Celibidache Bruckner 4: certainly one of my top 10 recordings of the year, from any source, online or off. If I seem ungrateful --- after all there have been several Mahler posts in between --- don't let that fool you. I have downloaded the Mahler (and Moravec's Grieg) but I am burnt out on Mahler at the moment and that's my own problem.

But Barbirolli in the most underrated of Sibelius Symphonies besides the 4th (or 3rd?) --- I can't wait!

And seriously, thanks again for the Celi: that has barely left my daily listening rotation since you posted it.

Viva Statework!

Ray said...

Since I first heard this recording it has been my favorite Sibelius Second, indeed perhaps one of my favorite performances of anything. The depth of humanity and sincerity that Sir John brings to it should serve as a lesson book for young conductors today who only want to conduct whatever composer may be trendy in the most glitzy, superficial manner. Ihis is one of those rare performances that shows just what man is capable of achieving through music. I can think of less than a handful of performances that transcend good or bad, right or wrong and exist on their own plane, uplifting us to a point where we can almost reach out and touch the outstretched hand of the Creator Himself. This is one of those performances.

Guillermo said...

Ray & Maready: you are awesome, and inspiring. Thank you.

By the by, anyone who hasn't seen maready's blog it is here:

Get ready before you click.

and maready; I named by beloved dog "Monk", for only such music matched his inimitably chaotic, geosynchronous and beautifully lopsided gait.

notesetter said...

Thank you for sharing this wonderful recording! A fantastic, one-of-a-kind reading.


Jack said...

Great work Guillermo! This performance needs to be heard by all lovers of Sibelius. Thanks for getting it out there.


RonanM said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
RonanM said...

Just the day for Sibelius - snowy and wintry here! I got to know this symphony on my first visit to Finland, many years ago, hearing it in the Kultuuritalo - the old, wooden concert hall in Helsinki. I still remember riding trams and trudging through the snow to get there.

Have a look at it - it's a wonderful venue:

Ah - looking forward to hearing this!

Many thanks!

David Federman said...

Yeah, this is an astounding performance. I sent everyone I know a link so that they could share the majesty of Barbirolli's interpretation. I forgot how much his interpretations can get under your skin. But hearing his Mahler 9th had the same effect on me and reawakened me forever to that genius. Thanks for this post. This is one of the greatest treasures I have ever downloaded.

Polzic said...

Muy buen blog! Te invito a visitar el mío!

Muchas gracias!

Tambien estamos en Facebook, hacete fan de Legos Argentina

MaSmart said...


Seraphim said...

the link is not working... can you repost? thanks!

Guillermo said...

Seraphim, the link is ok now that I check, maybe it was a temporary glitch.

it is


AND don't forget there is a recording of this symphony under the same forces but a few days later, which Progress Hornsby posted at his blog, MetroGnome: