Finlandia: Music of Grieg and Sibelius
Charles Mackerras, conductor
London Proms Orchestra
Pressing: Shaded Dog
Price range: $21-130, mean $57 on popsike
Comments: This is an underrated album in the RCA Living Stereo series. It stars a relatively young 34 year old Charles Mackerras (before he became Sir Charles) conducting the London Proms in some really nice orchestral music by Sibelius and Grieg. Side 1 opens with a vivacious Wedding Day at Troldhaugen that gets things off to a good start. I found this track to be the highlight of this side. Excerpts from Sibelius' King Christian II and Pelleas and Melisande as well as Two Melodies by Grieg round out the rest of this side. Side 2 enters with the title track, Sibelius' Finlandia, which is given a powerful, dramatic performance. I love the ominous brass introduction! This is followed by the Valse Triste and perhaps the most passionate rendition of Grieg's Two Elegiac Melodies I have ever heard. The London Proms play their hearts out on this record.
The sound on this album is quite excellent. I don't have the best copy, even though mine is a 1S/1S pressing. Balance is very good. Sound stage is wide and deep. The sound of the strings is rich and particularly lush in the slow movements. The horns are heard crisp and clear, and in solos you can just hear and feel the air surrounding the instruments. I found the sound of the percussion to also be impressive. While this album is not usually listed as one of the top RCA Living Stereo albums, don't pass it up. It's a hidden gem.