New DVD/BluRay: Sibelius Symphonies

The COE is thrilled to present this full set of the seven Sibelius Symphonies, performed live at the Helsinki Festival in 1998 with a very special friend of the Orchestra, the Finnish conductor Paavo Berglund, who sadly passed away ten years ago. This set is a tribute to the special relationship that the COE had with Paavo and which Dougie Boyd – former principal oboe of the COE and instigator of this cycle – talks about in a dedicated podcast episode, released at the same time as the set, on 28th January 2022. To listen to BBC Radio 3’s Record Review from Saturday 5th February 2022, featuring the Sibelius set 1h42 into the programme, please click here:  (available for 28 days).

Paavo Berglund, born in Helsinki in 1929, was the greatest of all the contemporary interpreters of Sibelius’s music.
His idiomatic and convincing recordings have done much to fire the revival of interest in the composer, with vivid performances that capture its unique qualities of grandeur and instrumental colour. Furthermore, Berglund, who deplored some of the textural changes which had evolved over the years, made every effort to ensure that the editions of the scores used were correct.

The Chamber Orchestra of Europe (COE) had for many years a special rapport with the conductor and it was the orchestra who suggested that they perform and record all the Sibelius Symphonies with him. This took place at the Edinburgh International Festival followed by studio recordings for Finlandia and finally, at the Helsinki Festival in August 1998 where they were filmed, here documented by the COE and ICA Classics with DVD and BluRay.

Why did Berglund use a chamber orchestra for performing Sibelius? Sonically, there is no doubt that the textures are far more varied with differences in orchestral timbres having greater individual impact. There is consistently far greater clarity throughout and that enables Sibelius’ subtleties of orchestration to become far more noticeable than usual. Above all, this set provides an exciting aural and visual experience showing the warmth of the Finnish audience towards Paavo Berglund, and the COE’s incredible playing and huge rapport and respect for it’s conductor – altogether, a memorable occasion.

· These films from the 1998 Helsinki Festival have never been released before.
· They mark the first and only commercial and authorised film of Paavo Berglund conducting.
· Interpretively the COE under Berglund here provide illuminating detail within Sibelius’s scores which is often lost in the broader and thicker textures normally experienced.
· The booklet contains excerpts from an interview between Paavo Berglund and Veijo Murtomaki in April 1996 where he discusses Sibelius and working with the COE.
· Douglas Boyd, principal oboist of the COE (1981-2002) discusses working with Paavo Berglund and the performances and recording/filming of the Sibelius Symphonies.
· The material is upscaled to HD resolution for BluRay and DVD release

Symphony No.1 in E minor Op.39
Symphony No.2 in D major Op.43
Symphony No.3 in C major Op.52
Symphony No.4 in A minor Op.63

Symphony No.5 in E flat major Op.82
Symphony No.6 in D minor Op.104
Symphony No.7 in C major Op.105

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