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For Simon Rattle, Jean Sibelius is “one of the most staggeringly original composers that there is”. And indeed, this music has a unique musical language whose many beauties are particularly succinctly conveyed in Sibelius’s seven symphonies. There is sonorous warmth as much as there is austere Nordic folklore. Moreover, there is a conceptual boldness that takes the listener on exciting musical journeys of discovery. In 2015, to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Sibelius’s birth, Simon Rattle and the Berliner Philharmoniker presented the cycle live, which was met with unanimous delight by audiences and critics alike. “The Philharmoniker show that with them and Simon Rattle, Sibelius is in excellent hands,” wrote the Berliner Zeitung, “because the orchestra has that astringency and sheer power which is so important for this kind of music.”
Simon Rattle was familiar with the music of Jean Sibelius from childhood. When, as a ten-year-old, he heard the Fifth Symphony live for the first time, it struck him – to use his own words – “like a thunderbolt”. The Berliner Philharmoniker can also look back on a long Sibelius tradition and the orchestra was conducted by the composer himself in 1902. However, the first complete performance of the seven symphonies was not realised until 2010 under the direction of Sir Simon Rattle, with the Third Symphony being performed by the Philharmoniker for the first time. For many music lovers in Berlin, this new encounter with Sibelius was an exhilarating experience, and so it was only natural to repeat the performance of the cycle in Sibelius’s anniversary year.
The complete recording of the symphonies is now being released in an exclusive edition. The edition presents the symphonies not only on 4 CDs, but also on two Blu-ray discs as HD video, in uncompressed audio resolution and DTS surround sound. The extensive product features include a comprehensive booklet and an hour-long video interview in which Sir Simon Rattle talks about his views on Sibelius and introduces the seven symphonies.