Talk about a major birthday. The Finnish master Jean Sibelius was born today December 8th, 1865, and died September 20th, 1957. He has always been in my top 10 composers and before I go to my grave someday I have promised myself that I will visit his grave, and house (Ainola).
He is undoubtedly one of the greatest symphonists the world has ever known. My favorite Sibelius symphony has always been the Sixth; it's almost too wonderful to describe...or at least I feel as if I'd do it little justice trying!! My father has always found Sibelius's 1st and 5th symphonies to be his finest, and while I love them both- well to this day still I argue with my father about the 6th and why it is indeed greater. I have many favorite recordings of the 6th, and regrettably I can't locate my absolute #1, which is Leif Segerstam and the Danish National Radio Symphony Orchestra on an older Chandos disc. Neeme Jarvi's recording on BIS with The Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra is fantastic as well. The whole Sibelius cycle with Petri Sakari and the Icelandic players on Naxos however is also very impressive, and imo this disc, the last in the series, is a very fine recording, up there with some of the best. The seventh is done brilliantly as well, and Sibelius's "The Tempest" Suite (No. 2) is also very well played. My favorite Sibelius recordings are mostly (not only) on Chandos and BIS, and I wanted to post several for his birthday but I just don't have time tonight to go thru any; it's been a looooong day...thus my lack of trumpeting over the Symphony No. 6, or the disc in general. I hope you will all excuse my fatigue.