The Sibelius Forum The Sibelius Forum
A discussion forum about the life and works of Jean Sibelius
 
FAQ :: Search :: Memberlist :: Usergroups :: Register
Profile :: Log in to check your private messages :: Log in

Letters and articles from my archives

 
Post new topic   Reply to topic    The Sibelius Forum Forum Index -> Sibelius Literature
View previous topic :: View next topic  
Author Message
Ads






Posted: Fri Mar 24, 2017 4:11 am    Post subject: Ads

Back to top
kullervopete
Conductor in Residence
Conductor in Residence


Joined: 08 Jun 2007
Posts: 1909
Location: Bury Lancs UK

PostPosted: Sat Oct 25, 2014 9:19 am    Post subject: Letters and articles from my archives Reply with quote


Only registered users can see links on this forum!
Register or Login on forum!



As an avid Sibelian over many years I have written many letters and articles in the cause of the great man and I thought that I might share some of them with the forum. My opening piece is a letter to Gramophone magazine a few years back. Comments very welcome--kp Smile

_________________
Peter Frankland
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Andrew B
Conductor in Residence
Conductor in Residence


Joined: 12 Oct 2006
Posts: 1129
Location: Brighton, England

PostPosted: Tue Oct 28, 2014 9:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Three cheers for tadpoles.

_________________

Only registered users can see links on this forum!
Register or Login on forum!

Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
kullervopete
Conductor in Residence
Conductor in Residence


Joined: 08 Jun 2007
Posts: 1909
Location: Bury Lancs UK

PostPosted: Thu Dec 04, 2014 11:53 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Back in 1962 I wrote an article on various types of music for the Tootal Times, Christmas edition. Tootal was a well known large Textile conglomerate that had recently taken over the Paper Mill where I was then employed. I do smile when I read my thoughts from nearly 52 years ago. I believe the clarinet player Acker Bilk died only this year. Clearly the music of Jean Sibelius was a passion of mine all those years ago Very Happy --kp

SOME THOUGHTS ON MUSIC

BY PETER FRANKLAND
Yates Duxbury and Sons Ltd


Jazz –Classical—Pop

The above musical terms seem at first sight to be concerned with entirely separate worlds. As an ordinary music lover with no special qualifications I want to try and show that they are not as far divided as is sometimes thought. The layman uses the terms ‘Classical’ and ‘Popular’ as if they were at completely opposite poles to each other, e.g. ‘I do not like classical music, I like something with a tune to it’. This statement to me seems very strange. What could be more tuneful than a Tchaikovsky Symphony, a Strauss Waltz or a Wagner Overture? The crux of the problem seems to lie in the misinterpretation of the word ‘Classical’. The term is used to distinguish the large class of music written roughly from the end of the sixteenth century to the end of the eighteenth century, in which a widely accepted rule of form and style came into being. Mozart can be said to be ‘Pure Classical’.
In the middle of the nineteenth century the romantic school came into being associated with such names as Wagner and Brahms. Later on it became connected with the Nationalistic movement and names such as Dvorak and Grieg come to mind. This movement continued right into the opening years of the twentieth century [Richard Strauss and Edward Elgar were still alive]. At this time a definite Anti-Romantic reaction set in.
About this time, jazz began to appear on the scene and soon gained a great popularity in New Orleans, its birth place. The basis of jazz is improvisation, the performer usually taking the tune and building round it with complete freedom, no music being needed. In fact, it would be near impossible to put down on paper the sounds created by an expert jazz performer. But improvisation is nothing relatively new. In the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries this branch of the musical art was considered to be of the highest importance. Bach was a notable exponent, he would improvise on a Hymn tune for more than two hours without stopping. One critic has said that if Bach were alive to-day he would be the greatest jazzman of all.
Many serious composers have been influenced by jazz, names like Ravel, Milaud and Stravinsky. Personally, I believe that jazz is limited in its expression. The music critic Ernest Newman has said : ‘Jazz being [in the compositional sense, apart from orchestration] merely a bundle of tricks, he who tries to develop jazz is on the horns of a dilemma. If he makes use of the tricks he fetters his individuality and if he does not he ceases to write jazz’.
Now, where does ‘Pop’ music enter into all this? Strictly speaking I would say there has always been ‘Pop’ music throughout the history of the Art. Bach brought the popular dance rhythms of his day into many of his serious works, the Minuet and Gavotte are notable examples.
But coming back to the present time I would think myself that modern ‘Pop’ music has taken on a phenomena of its own. With the advent of the record player, radio and television, etc, the pop tune has a shorter life than ever before. It has grown up into a vast commercial industry. Tin Pan Alley is now world famous, but of the quality of the music produced much could be said. I feel myself that many of the ‘Pop’ tunes are frankly ‘pinched’ from the masters, the majority of young people fully believing the latest ‘hit’ to be an original idea when in point of fact it may have been conceived by Beethoven in a moment of inspiration. This is not to say all pop music must be condemned, far from it.
As I stated at the beginning of this article a good tune can easily be found in serious music and I fail to see how anyone can appreciate Mr. Acker Bilk’s ‘Stranger on the Shore’ and fail to be thrilled with the great tune in the opening of Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No.1.
I have tried to delve into various branches of music, as I feel all have something to offer. It is obvious that everyone must have his or her favourite tune or composer. For my own part the music of the great Finnish composer Jean Sibelius [1865-1957] gives me the ultimate of musical experience. But, this does not stop me enjoying the Ragtime Bands of the twenties, the good pop tune or the refinement of the sixteenth century composer Palestrina. I hope after reading this article you will realise that
JAZZ - CLASSICAL * POP
Are all in the same family, though speaking with widely different voices.

_________________
Peter Frankland
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
kullervopete
Conductor in Residence
Conductor in Residence


Joined: 08 Jun 2007
Posts: 1909
Location: Bury Lancs UK

PostPosted: Thu Jan 01, 2015 9:07 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

THE GREATNESS OF SIBELIUS

Dear Sir,
December 8th, 1965 marked the centenary of one of the giants of music, namely Jean Sibelius. As an enthusiastic Sibelian I was interested in your report of a tribute to Sibelius given before the Bury and District Recorded Music Circle by Mr. J. Hartley. It was stated that by 1925 his music had dried up and that he is rarely played outside of Scandinavia and the English speaking countries. While agreeing broadly with Mr. Hartley I would like to expand a little on this. The decades following the First World War brought the name of Sibelius to the forefront thanks largely to the efforts of a formable array of conductors, including Beecham, Wood and Barbirolli. Koussevitzky and Stokowski worked with equal enthusiasm in the United States. Their efforts amplified by the critical writings of Cecil Gray, Constant Lambert and others. Following the first two symphonies which were highly successfully directed towards the concert hall, the third symphony formed a bridge to the profound and highly personal fourth, a work scarcely describable. Three more symphonies intervened before Sibelius closed his published major works with Tapiola alongside work on the Tempest music. Now I don’t believe that his music simply dried up owing to lack of inspiration or that he went into early retirement. Time often distorts perspective; let’s remember that he was sixty when his final works appeared. Rumours of an eighth symphony persisted for many years, it is now known that Sibelius wrote such a work, but afterwards destroyed it. It is a measure of his achievement that Tapiola like all great Art is timeless.
Yours Sincerely, Peter Frankland.

The above letter was published in the Bury Times, my local newspaper in December, 1965--kp

_________________
Peter Frankland
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
kullervopete
Conductor in Residence
Conductor in Residence


Joined: 08 Jun 2007
Posts: 1909
Location: Bury Lancs UK

PostPosted: Thu Jan 29, 2015 10:35 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

27/04/07

Dear Sir,
Forty-two years ago in 1965, the Bury Times kindly printed a letter from a twenty four year old music lover, namely myself. ‘The greatness of Sibelius’. I wrote it on the occasion of the Sibelius centenary and in response to a presentation on the music of the Finnish composer given at that time before the Bury and district recorded music circle by a Mr. Hartley. In 1965 the critical climate was very much against the music of Jean Sibelius and in many ways I was fighting a rear guard action at this time in praising his wonderful music, but has Sibelius himself once remarked ‘No one has ever put up a statue in memory of a critic’. It is however a joy for me to report that has we begin to mark the fiftieth anniversary of Sibelius’s death, his star is very much in the ascendant. In 1965 I reflected that the Finns music had only really taken hold in Britain, the USA and Scandinavia. Two years ago I was lucky enough to attend the Lahti Sibelius Festival in Finland and it was very clear that lovers of his music came from all around the world. As a measure of his influence today it is heartening to quote Julian Anderson in the Cambridge companion to Sibelius [2004] ‘For there is virtually no major composer working today who has not been directly effected by the work of Jean Sibelius’.
In your report of the Holcombe Brook recorded music circle [April 26th] I was delighted that member Ann Hopkinson, in her presentation ‘Symphony at dawn’ included one of Sibelius’s most beautiful and rarely played works ‘Nightride and Sunrise opus 55 [1907] and not Nightingale which was a misprint! But it was an apt choice, for Sibelius in his forest home ‘Ainola’ the migrating birds had a mystical effect on the great composer and one can hear aspects of the dawn chorus in the sunrise section, a journey from darkness to light. Later in the magnificent fifth symphony, Sibelius penned ‘a swan hymn beyond compare’.
In this day and age of violence, cruelty and strife we need more than ever the resounding message of artists like Jean Sibelius and when we hear the music of this man, we can again believe that the human spirit will never again enslave itself.

The above letter was a follow up to my letter from 1965, written 42 years later--kp

_________________
Peter Frankland
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
kullervopete
Conductor in Residence
Conductor in Residence


Joined: 08 Jun 2007
Posts: 1909
Location: Bury Lancs UK

PostPosted: Tue Feb 24, 2015 10:06 am    Post subject: Reply with quote


Only registered users can see links on this forum!
Register or Login on forum!



One of the great symphonies of the twentieth century is the fourth symphony of Franz Schmidt, written in 1932-3. I feel pretty sure that anyone into Sibelius would be at home in this music. Every thing in the symphony grows organically from the trumpet theme which opens and closes this great work. After enjoying a rare performance of the symphony in Manchester conducted by Vassily Sinaisky I was incensed by the Manchester Evening News critics negative review--kp

_________________
Peter Frankland
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
kullervopete
Conductor in Residence
Conductor in Residence


Joined: 08 Jun 2007
Posts: 1909
Location: Bury Lancs UK

PostPosted: Fri Mar 27, 2015 9:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

THERE ARE MORE THINGS THAN HEAVEN AND EARTH
By Peter Frankland

I was interested in David James’ letter [Spiritualists are just charlatans’ The Bolton News, Thursday, August 28] which was on a new refreshingly different subject. In his tirade against rogue clairvoyants, Mr James enlisted the help of science to bolster his case. I hold no brief for the ‘so-called spiritualist medium that Mr James refers to, and I do not doubt that there are rogue spiritualists about, just as sure as we have dodgy car salesmen and bent MP’s. Mr Richard Dawkins is an eminent scientist and he is also an Atheist. As such, Dawkins contends that a supernatural creator does not exist. Of course many scientists are devout Christians and a number are interested in psychic phenomenon, ESP and the like. If Mr James thinks that spiritualism is a load of old twaddle, then I would suggest that he steers clear of Quantum Mechanics, a world of complete none logic, where an electron can be in two places at the same time and things don’t exist until they are observed. Science might be able to explain what is causing global warming or how a star is formed, but can it explain what ‘love’ is or the beauty that I perceive in a Sibelius Symphony? Remember Mr James that there are more things in heaven and earth…’

The above letter was written to the Bolton News in 2007. Correspondence was on-going regarding clairvoyants, science and spiritualists. I myself keep an open mind in this area and I am also keen on astronomy.--kp

_________________
Peter Frankland
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
kullervopete
Conductor in Residence
Conductor in Residence


Joined: 08 Jun 2007
Posts: 1909
Location: Bury Lancs UK

PostPosted: Wed Apr 29, 2015 8:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Back in 2007 I wrote the following letter to Gramophone magazine. It followed a particular vitriolic attack on Sibelius's Kullervo Symphony by a reviewer. I was outraged--kp


Kullervo no pot boiler

Dear Sir,
I take issue with your reviewer Peter Quantrill [Feb 07, page 86] where he describes Sibelius’s youthful masterpiece ‘Kullervo’ as little more than ‘a nationalist pot boiler’ and also his somewhat glib remark that it is a work ‘whose recording history is racing towards overkill’. I really do begin to question Mr. Quantrill's Sibelian credentials.
Kullervo reveals music of extraordinary imagination and beauty and if it shows the path that Sibelius choose not to follow, it is no less wonderful for that. As we begin to mark the fiftieth anniversary of the Finnish masters death, I rejoice in his life’s work, from Kullervo to Tapiola alongside the incomparable symphonies, Constant Lamberts assertion that Sibelius points most surely to the future has clearly now been confirmed for as Julian Anderson points out in the Cambridge Companion to Sibelius in 2004 ‘For there is virtually no major composer working today who has not been directly affected by the work of Jean Sibelius’. For music lovers where else in symphonic music do we hear string writing so exiting and glacial in its multiple divisions, woodwind so pungent and reedy, or brass so scowling and baleful? Jean Sibelius was one of the great originals in music and in the 50th anniversary year of his death, we celebrate his rich legacy.

_________________
Peter Frankland
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
David Revilla
Orchestra Member - Section Leader
Orchestra Member - Section Leader


Joined: 29 Sep 2009
Posts: 142
Location: Valladolid (Spain)

PostPosted: Fri May 01, 2015 2:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Kullervo has got some weak moments, but also some bars of the best music that Sibelius ever compose!

_________________
I'm sorry, my english isn't quite good! My blog about Sibelius in spanish:

Only registered users can see links on this forum!
Register or Login on forum!

Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
kullervopete
Conductor in Residence
Conductor in Residence


Joined: 08 Jun 2007
Posts: 1909
Location: Bury Lancs UK

PostPosted: Fri May 29, 2015 9:11 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I penned the following short essay 20 years ago. I've always been impressed by the profound use of silence in the music of Jean Sibelius.
kp

SILENCE IN MUSIC
BY PETER FRANKLAND

Some of the more adventurous members of our Society may be familiar with a composition by John Cage: 4’ 33’’—also known as the ‘Silent Sonata’. The piece consists of 4 minutes and 33 seconds in which a pianist, or several musicians with their instruments, sit as if ready to play, but produce no sound.
Cage may have been breaking new ground in this ‘piece’, but I am not at all surprised that he did not attempt a large-scale composition in this genre! But I began to think how profound silence can be in music in the hands of a master like Jean Sibelius. The second movement of his Symphony No. 2, for all its rhetorical passion, fades away into silence several times, a silence of far greater significance than that of Cage.
This gift of Sibelius—Bruckner had it too—developed in the symphonies and tone poems to an extraordinary degree. Some years ago the American conductor Michael Tilson Thomas made a television programme with the London Symphony Orchestra, Journey into Silence, in which they played Sibelius’s Sixth Symphony, Tilson Thomas showing how each of the four movements of this great and neglected masterpiece is drawn into silence.
In Tapiola, Sibelius’s final great utterance, we experience the silence of the forests alongside the most ferocious storm in all music, and when we reach the final bars of this noble work, it seems to say: ‘the rest is silence’—perhaps the most profound silence in the history of music.

_________________
Peter Frankland
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
kullervopete
Conductor in Residence
Conductor in Residence


Joined: 08 Jun 2007
Posts: 1909
Location: Bury Lancs UK

PostPosted: Tue Jun 30, 2015 9:07 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I wrote the following letter to the Bolton News in 2009. It arose regarding reports that a number of supermarkets were playing classical music in their stores to drive out rowdy elements in the store.--kp

CLASSICAL MUSIC IS NOW 'COOL' WITH THE YOUNG

Dear Sir, I was interested in the report 'Classical music to drive off the yobs' [January 21] I would paraphrase a well known quote--music hath charms to repel the savage yob.

Let me say at once that I think pushing a shopping trolley round the aisles to the strains of Tchaikovsky or Mozart is a great idea.

The music of the great masters speaks to all of humanity and clearly it has not curtailed customers from going into the stores and spending money during the credit crunch.

I know one mans meat is another mans poison, but classical music is now more widely enjoyed than ever . Our schools now have more children's orchestras than ever before.

Cross-over artists like Russell Watson have helped to shake off the elitist image which has dogged serious music over the years.

In trials carried out on babies in Finland, it was found that classical music, and Mozart in particular, proved to be an excellent therapy in calming and soothing the stressed infants. Forget the jobs--classical is cool.

_________________
Peter Frankland
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
kullervopete
Conductor in Residence
Conductor in Residence


Joined: 08 Jun 2007
Posts: 1909
Location: Bury Lancs UK

PostPosted: Sat Aug 01, 2015 9:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The following letter was printed in the UKSS Newsletter back in 1985. It concerned a review by Thomas Miller of Christopher Nupen's film 'Sibelius' which was shown on Christmas day [Channel 4]--kp

'I agree broadly with Thomas Miller's assessment...If I do have any criticism of the film I think that it did overplay the stern Nordic aspects of Sibelius's music at the expense of his great inner warmth. It was significant that his serenest and essentially happiest Symphony [No.6] was not included...certainly anybody new to Sibelius' music would have received a somewhat incomplete picture...I think that Vaughan Williams verdict on Sibelius 'You have lit a candle in the world of music that will never go out' is worth expanding on. VW once compared Sibelius's life work to Bunyon's 'The Pilgrims Progress' where Christian on his journey to Paradise is tempted to take easier paths which ultimately lead nowhere. Christian was warned of the wearisomeness, painfulness, hunger, perils, darkness and in a word death which awaited him along this path, but Christian, keeping to the straight and narrow path, ultimately found his salvation. This, Vaughan Williams asserts, is the path Sibelius has taken and he asks us to follow him.
It is significant that the Symphony Vaughan Williams dedicated to Sibelius [No.5] makes use of some of the material from his unfinished stage work 'The Pilgrims Progress'. It is also known that Sibelius was delighted and deeply moved by Vaughan Williams gift and spoke very highly of the work.

_________________
Peter Frankland
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
kullervopete
Conductor in Residence
Conductor in Residence


Joined: 08 Jun 2007
Posts: 1909
Location: Bury Lancs UK

PostPosted: Thu Sep 03, 2015 10:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The following letter dates from 1987 to the UK SS Newsletter.--kp

With the welcome resurgence in popularity of Sibelius it is pleasing to find his A minor Fourth Symphony appearing surprisingly frequently in concert programmes. This strange and profound work is one of Sibelius's finest achievements and indeed arguably the greatest symphony written this century.
One of the problems for conductor and programme planner in doing Sibelius 4 must be whether or not to place it in the first half of a programme so as to be able to close the concert on a more optimistic note. But some conductors rightly take the view that this great and forbidding work should be played last, for after hearing this music what is there left to say? One of the finest broadcast performances of the work I heard last year was by Marek Janowski directing the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, a conductor I had not previously associated with Sibelius and Janowski also had the courage to close the concert with this work. And has Robert Simpson remarked, the final dogged chords of A minor that emerge unruffled from the terrifying spasm of the last movement are as heroic as anything in music.
After taping Sibelius 4. I was left with the same problem of what to use as fill-up for the last five minutes of the tape. Readers may be interested to know that my choice was the 'Intrada' and 'Berceuse' from the Tempest music of 1926. This marvellous miniature, it seems to me, inhabits the same world as the Fourth Symphony and is so imaginative and masterly as to make much music written at this time appear amateurish and irrelevant.

_________________
Peter Frankland
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
kullervopete
Conductor in Residence
Conductor in Residence


Joined: 08 Jun 2007
Posts: 1909
Location: Bury Lancs UK

PostPosted: Sat Oct 03, 2015 10:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've always rated Kurt Sanderlings Sibelius Cycle highly. For anyone contemplating getting hold of these recordings here's a review that I wrote back in 1997 for the UKSS.--kp

THE KURT SANDERLING SIBELIUS CYCLE

Right from the early Kajanus recordings in the thirties, Sibelius has been well served on record, but Sibelius himself once remarked that he had never been completely satisfied with any one recording of his music, and when one looks at the various complete cycles of the Symphonies on record over the years, it is difficult to single out a completely successful set.
Lorin Maazel's Vienna series in the sixties was very fine, but the Sixth Symphony was not particularly idiomatic. Karajan's early Fourth and Sixth with the Philharmonia have long been favourites of mine, but Karajan never recorded No.3, as was the case with Ormandy.
I have always held Bernstein's cycle from the sixties in high esteem, and Colin Davies and Simon Rattle have both made significant contributions to the Sibelian recorded legacy, and many other fine individual recordings come to mind.
For many years Anthony Collins set, recorded in the fifties, has been regarded as perhaps the most successful overall--but now, with the release on Berlin Classics of Kurt Sanderling's complete cycle with the Berlin Symphony Orchestra, recorded in the mid to late seventies, things change. This magnificent set has shaken me like no other.
Kurt Sanderling was born in East Prussia in 1912, Jewish, he emigrated in 1936, as Berlin was not a very hospitable place to be at this time. Sanderling went to Russia and was joint chief conductor of the Leningrad Philharmonic Orchestra from 1941 to 1960, along with Mravinsky. Sanderling relates that he learnt the Sibelius Symphonies in Russia directly from the scores, and he had to imagine the Sibelian musical landscape directly from within himself.
Let me say that the orchestral response of the Berlin orchestra is enthusiastic and committed. They can hardly have been very familiar at this time with these works.
In the first two Symphonies there is no lack of Romantic passion and drama, but Sanderling underlines the classical discipline already present in these early works, and which was to become increasingly important in the later Symphonies, and I must say that in the final paragraphs of No.2 Sanderling, more than most, captures the epic majesty and rugged individuality of the music.
Sanderling is again most successful in No.3. His tempo in the second movement is faster than Kajanus, but Sanderling too brings out all the wistfulness and elegance of a summer day.
Sanderling has the full measure of No.4; he brings out many new ideas from the score, and I would place his account among the great Fourths of Karajan, Davies and others.
Sanderlings vision of No.5. is superb. The opening Tempo molto moderato transforms itself into the scherzo with masterly control, and in the finale the famous horn theme is wonderful against the woodwind counter-melody, and for once the six famous hammer blows are spaced out enough at the conclusion to this mighty work.
The fourth CD contains Nos. 6 and 7 plus a deeply felt Night Ride and Sunrise. For me this is the greatest Sixth on record. Sanderlings tempi in all four movements are perfect. Take the second movement, which Sibelius marks Allegretto moderato. Most conductors sadly take this too fast[and I include Anthony Collins here], and this subtle and marvellous music can end up sounding like Tchaikovsky on a bad day. I am not ashamed to admit that in the final coda of No.6, tears filled my eyes.
No.7 is another stunning achievement. Sanderling has a sure grasp of this Symphonies unique structure and gives an awe-inspiring account of this noble work. Incidentally, he takes twenty-three minutes and forty-nine seconds for this Symphony, as against Neeme Jarvi's Barbican performance last year of eighteen and a half minutes.
I urge all Sibelians and others to seek out Sanderlings Sibelius cycle. It is certainly one of the most distinguished contributions to recorded history and must be accounted one of the great Sibelius cycles.

_________________
Peter Frankland
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
kullervopete
Conductor in Residence
Conductor in Residence


Joined: 08 Jun 2007
Posts: 1909
Location: Bury Lancs UK

PostPosted: Tue Dec 22, 2015 10:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I penned the following article back in 2007---kp


Confession’s of a Sibelian
By Peter Frankland

I have often wondered just what it is about the music of Johan Christian Julius Sibelius that continues to effect me so deeply, and not only the music, for the very persona of this man radiates an aura of spirituality. His message has taken up a large part of my life and undoubtedly enriched it for the good.
It was during my late teens around the time of the Finnish master’s death that I gradually became conscious of a growing admiration and love for his music. It must have been the first symphony with Malcolm Sargent and the BBC Symphony orchestra that kindled the spark which was eventually to blaze to the very core of my being.
Were as I can claim to a great admiration for the works of Brahms, Dvorak, Tchaikovsky, Elgar and many more, I love Sibelius at a fundamental level. If I listen to say Mahler’s first symphony, I feel as a stranger looking at some alien vision, but when I listen to Sibelius’s Kullervo I have the wonderful feeling that I have somehow ‘come home’, that this musical landscape in some mysterious way is were I ultimately belong, indeed the music seems to mirror the thoughts and feelings of my own inner being.
One thing that has amazed me is how Sibelius was able to reject great lumps of his music, he withdrew Kullervo after the first few performances and it was not heard again in its entirety until after the composer’s death. If Kullervo shows the path that Sibelius chose not to follow it is surely a massive achievement.
It was undoubtedly his growing self criticism that led him ultimately to destroy what was to be his crowning achievement, the eighth symphony. Sibelius revised many of his greatest works and it is known that Aino Sibelius preferred the first version of En Saga and I myself must confess to similar sentiments regarding a number of the composer’s works. I now regard the original 1895 version of ‘the return of Lemminkainen’ as my clear favorite, it contains wonderful passages which I feel are very close in feeling to moments in the last movement of the 1915 version of the fifth symphony. This brings me to a huge confession; I now love the last movement of this colossal symphony in the 1915 version, even more than in the definitive score of 1919 if this is possible. It is so much more expansive, though I readily admit that the 1919 is a much more perfect work of art, Sibelius had battled with God and he was ruthless in rejecting much wonderful music. At the first appearance of Thors swinging hammer theme on the horns in the 1915 version, the counter theme on the woodwind is still not fully formed and very much fragmentary, but oh how it cries out from the soul. Later a trumpet suddenly interjects in the wrong key; underlining it seems to me one of the themes of this symphony ‘Life’s Pain’. Later the oboe calls out with repeated notes over muted strings like the cries of the migrating birds, wonderful music, banished from the 1919 version. In this 1915 concept the entire final climax is much longer, the movement runs to 679 bars as against 482 [1919] the key changes to Ed major and the tempo slows to largamente molto with massive effect. At the very end we have five concluding chords, the first four of which are heard above a sustained string tremolo with horns and woodwind, a shattering conclusion in its own right.
I am now going to shock a few Sibelians! Apart from Karajan’s 1953 account of the fourth symphony with the Philharmonia orchestra, my other first choice in this wonderful work is none other than Ansermet in his neglected recording from 1964 with L’Orchestre de La Suisse Romande. I can almost hear the gasps of horror, for current thought with this symphony is that Ansermet does all the wrong things. Not content with using the discredited tubular bells, he also slows down the musical argument, some would claim to inertia, well for me it works! Cecil Gray compared Sibelius’s fourth symphony with a species of star [which physicists and astronomer’s] call a white dwarf, the substance of which is so dense and compressed that a piece the size of a shilling may weigh as much as several tons. This music needs to breath; I recently compared Colin Davis’s Boston account, now Davies is a great Sibelius conductor but here in the last movement of the fourth, into the coda he skimps these profound passages as I see it, and for me they are robbed of much inner meaning. Were as Ansermet amplifies these profound moments, for me the final exchanges between flute and oboe is unsurpassed in any other recording with the possible exception of Segerstam. I am well aware that the score indicates no modification of tempo for this coda, but as with the second movement of No 3 there are two sharply divergent performance traditions. In Colin Davis’s account he stays rigorously in tempo to the end, is feeling is no doubt that ‘in tempo’ is, like mezzo-forte the stern denial of pathos. Ansermet softens the tempo here so that the decrease in motion matches the decrease in musical action, his authority here is a letter permitting the slackening, from Sibelius to Serge Koussevitzky, whose temperament would not have allowed him to conduct these measures in tempo even with a gun held to his head!
To close on a lighter note, Sibelius wrote some unashamedly big tunes particularly in his earlier works, the finale of No 2 contains a tune that even the news delivery boy could whistle. In a previous news letter Edward Clark pointed out that even Arnold Schoenberg aspired to write music that could be whistled in the bath, am I alone in whistling themes from the fourth symphony whilst walking around Tesco

_________________
Peter Frankland
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
kullervopete
Conductor in Residence
Conductor in Residence


Joined: 08 Jun 2007
Posts: 1909
Location: Bury Lancs UK

PostPosted: Sat Feb 13, 2016 11:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The following essay dates from 2007 and in it I discuss a little known choral work by Sibelius which has become one of my favourite pieces by the Finnish Master--kp


A Dream of Paradise
By Peter Frankland

I was daydreaming the other day about things Sibelian and suddenly asked myself that in the unlikely event that I ever found myself shipwrecked on a desert island, what one work of Sibelius I would
choose to have with me. This question proved to be extremely vexing, I was torn between the last four symphonies and a number of other orchestral works, but in the end I settled for none of these wonderful pieces.
My choice was a neglected choral work of supposedly minor importance in Sibelius’s output, the Cantata ‘Jordens sang’ [Song of the earth] opus 93, 1919. One critic described it thus ‘the cantata is on the whole plain and monotonous’. Even such an authority as Erik Tawaststjerna has referred to it as ‘an insignificant piece’. I beg to differ!
Let me confess at once that there is no other work by Jean Sibelius that I have come to love and admire more than this wondrous music. Aino Sibelius once remarked ‘My husband’s music is like the word of God. It comes from a noble source and is fine to live close by it’, I would echo these sentiments completely.
Abo Academy, a newly established Swedish language university in Turku had approached Sibelius through the good offices of Axel Carpalen to commission the piece for the inauguration of the academy, and Sibelius accepted. Jarl Robert Hemmer [1893—1944] was to write the text. Hemmer had enjoyed some success as a lyric Poet; he had been a member of the ‘Oxford group’ in England that taught moral awakening through public confession and purity. As was the case with Sibelius, Hemmer had struggled with alcoholism and tragically he committed suicide while residing at The Poet’s House in Porvoo.
When Sibelius accepted the commission for Jordan Sang he remarked ‘it only remains for Jarl Hemmer to surpass himself, I shall certainly try to do the same’. A few days after Xmas, Hemmer finished the text and sent it to Ainola. Sibelius told Carpelan ‘If possible I shall conduct the Cantata myself. I conduct these days with reluctance, since my nerves let me down nowadays nearly always’. In the event he conducted the Premier on 11th October, 1919 in the Old Academy Hall in Turku.
Even today, the choral music of Jean Sibelius is rarely heard outside of Finland, language problems undoubtedly play a part and of course as with the piano music, they have been overshadowed largely by the masters symphonic output. After thirty years admiration of this composer, it was not until 1983 that I chanced to hear a performance of Jordan Sang on BBC Radio 3, courtesy of Finnish Radio. It was given by the Laulu, Akateminen and Helsinki cathedral choirs under Ulf Soderblum. Sibelius thought highly enough of the piece to include it in the concert on the 24th November, 1919 when the final version of the fifth symphony was given. Osmo Vanska has recorded the Cantata on Bis CD 1365 with the Dominante Choir and Lahti S.O and this fine CD was runner up in the societies Record of the year 2005 though Soderblums performance is the stronger of the two. It was immensely fascinating to read Hemmers text for the first time, given with Andrew Barnett’s interesting sleeve note and this has certainly enriched my enjoyment of the music.
Song of the earth consists of several contrasting sections that merge imperceptibly from one to the other. The opening section [The Earth] features in succession, men’s voices in unison, women’s voices in unison, women’s and men’s voices in octaves, and then four part harmony. ‘Earth continues to revolve there with its destiny, through the dark expanse of space. From afar the golden, glowing stars shine, but the earths flame flickers, heavy with blood. The universes halls are filled with the song of the spheres but earth sobs in the undeserved condemnation that it did not comprehend’. The opening idea is reminiscent of the well known song ‘All Through the Night’ and this returns again in the concluding section.
Throughout this wonderful piece, the orchestra shares equal importance with the chorus, when we reach the next section [The Weak’] the orchestra again support the chorus with some glorious moments and the contrast between the feminine and masculine elements of the choral writing, as throughout the cantata is handled by Sibelius with the utmost sensitivity. Sibelius had written around this time, ‘Don’t forget your great love of Beethoven. You can worship worse Gods’, and in the third section [ The Fighters] we suddenly hear a dynamic figure from the brass that is powerfully Beethoven, it reveals affinities with the opening of The Fidelio overture, and this powerful idea is subtlely woven in with new material. ‘Why should we wait and ask and dream away when a reality summons us, large as death? Look, there burns the dazzling light of our exploits above the powder smoke and shots of the struggle for life. The men’s voices open the next section [ The Heart] ‘ Hear how under silent heavens, surrounded by threatening powers, In ever-changing rhythm the human heart sings its song’, the women’s voices now continue in some of the most moving parts of the cantata, ‘ Long, long is the way in the valley of trials. Meagre is the joy, innumerable torments attack us with tongs that glow hotly’. We hear little bird calls from the flute, so simple yet so haunting. As the women’s voices rise to a climax, the men announce the arrival of the fifth section [ The Eternal Dream] this is a stupendous moment, [ ‘The earths daughters and the earths sons, A great tempestuous sea of people-no heaven hears our prayers, consider the demands of our beseeching yearning’. The choirs cry out to the heavens,’ Starlight from on high, light us and guide us! There is a tremendous searching quality from the strings as they soar ever higher like a beam of light, guiding the chorus ever onward. This section merges imperceptibly into the final Epilogue with all the skill of a great symphonist and the cantata builds up to a final great climax- ‘We dream that an age will one day dawn when bright songs from earth will be combined with the music of the spheres at the universe’s festivities.
And so ends in solemn triumph one of Sibelius’s most vital and moving creations. I think that both Sibelius and Hemmer did surpass themselves in this collaboration and this cantata deserves to be heard far more frequently. The work includes much more contrasts in the grouping of voices than most of Sibelius’s other works, the orchestra is used to support and add colour to the voices. It is very well constructed and while the harmony is mostly diatonic, several sections feature chromatic progressions. One wonders just what Hemmer thought of Sibelius’s setting, although the quality of his text is uneven, there are passages that undoubtedly shine: ‘Salvation lay in a birds warbling’, ‘Dreams of paradise and the day of judgement’. Whenever I speak to friends about the glories of ‘Song of the earth’ they naturally infer that I allude to Mahler’s work of the same name, maybe in the course of time, Sibelius’s ‘song’ will share equal popularity, for to quote the master himself, this music is ‘a quest in the infinite recesses of the soul’.




_________________
Peter Frankland
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
kullervopete
Conductor in Residence
Conductor in Residence


Joined: 08 Jun 2007
Posts: 1909
Location: Bury Lancs UK

PostPosted: Fri Apr 22, 2016 9:09 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The Bard is undoubtedly one of Sibelius's greatest compositions. As with the Fourth Symphony, the piece will never be amongst the composers most popular works. But it is a work of tremendous concentration and vision. I hope that you enjoy the following essay that I penned some years back--kp

The Bard
By Peter Frankland

The Bard is still probably one of the most neglected and important works from the pen of Jean Sibelius but its quiescent inward musings and poetic restraint can be elusive to the casual listener, hiding much passion and indeed power. Sibelius never divulged any specific story behind the music and indeed the composer denied that it had any connection to Runebergs poem of the same title. Be that as it may, Sibelius’s music certainly shares some of the atmosphere of the Runeberg poem of which here is an excerpt :

Time came when winter touched his locks
And age paled his cheeks;
And so once more he took his lyre,
And plucked sonorous chords--and died
Rendering up his soul to the spirit
From which it came.


Erik Tawaststjerna said that the most Sibelius ever revealed as to any inspiration for The Bard was to say that it ‘refers to a Skald [Bard] of the ancient Scandinavian world and is not drawn from the Kalevala. Tawaststjerna observed that Sibelius always kept Runebergs poems readily at hand, so could it have been only coincidence that just a few months after completing The Bard, Sibelius wrote a short piano piece ‘To Longing’--also the title of a Runeberg poem. In volume one of the poets collected works [with the title printed in bold] within a page or so after Runebergs ‘The Bard’
Sibelius conducted a first draft of the piece in March, 1913 and after some revision sent it off to his publisher Breitkopf, this version has been lost and it seems that Breitkopf considered the piece as perhaps the introduction to something larger. Sibelius replied suggesting ’Scenes historiques’ 111: ‘The Bard’ ’The Knight and the Elf’ and Rondo. As we know ‘The Bard’ was to stand alone, however Andrew Barnett has suggested that it could have been the missing first movement of the original version of ‘The Oceanides’. The Bard did prove to be a piece of extreme brevity with a important part for the Harp, perhaps suggesting a bardic lyre. He revised the piece in 1914. The work is scored for two flutes, two oboes, three clarinets, two bassoons, four horns, two trumpets, three trombones, timpani, tam-tam, harp and strings. The dictionary tells us that ‘Bard’ is: a. One of an ancient Celtic order of minstrel poets who composed and recited verses celebrating the legendary exploits of Chieftains and heroes and b. A poet, especially a lyric poet. A Bard was especially in Scandinavian history, a person who composed and recited epic or heroic poems while playing the harp. It does not really matter exactly what Sibelius had in mind when he composed this wonderful tone poem for it breaths the essence of ancient prose. Sibelius conducted the revised version in Helsinki on January 9th, 1916 with the Helsinki Philharmonic Society. The Bard falls broadly into two sections: a deeply meditative Lento assai and a more passionate Largamente. The tone poem begins with a three-note ascending motif on the clarinet, echoed by the harp, then the strings. Out of this slenderest of material Sibelius imparts a powerful atmosphere. There is nothing that can really be described as a fully fledged theme in this first part. A little three-note cell moves either upwards or downwards with the harp playing a prominent part. Sibelius distils an atmosphere of profoundly ineffable musing . The entry of trumpet and trombone [bars 97--100] is a powerful moment. Sibelius remarked that this should resemble the sound of Lurs, the ancient bronze age brass instruments uncovered in burial mounds in Southern Scandinavia during the early nineteenth Century. This is a climax of immense concentration, a single chord--some of the instruments play their one and only note. Sibelius uses the tam-tam once only towards the end. As with Tapiola the music turns to the major key at the very end, giving a reassuring conclusion The Bard clearly shares a close proximity to the fourth symphony with which it shares many characteristics. Tawaststjerna remarked ’that in his pursuit of the aphoristic line and the elusive sonority, striving, as it were, for the unseen and ineffable, he almost reminds one of the aesthetic aims of Webern’. Sibelius’s tone poem ’The Bard’ is never likely to be ’box office’ if it lacks the high drama and colour of Pohjola’s Daughter or the monumental vision of Tapiola it is undoubtedly a work of profound and enigmatic poetry. The work was premiered in England in a BBC broadcast by Adrian Boult in 1935 and Beecham gave the first public performance in 1938 when he directed all seven symphonies. In America ’The Bard’ was first performed has late as 1967 by the Detroit Symphony orchestra under Sixten Ehrling. Why was Sibelius so reticent in divulging any programme behind this masterwork, even being at pains to deny any inspiration from his favourite Runeberg? Here is a personal thought--could it just be that ’The Bard’ was a self-portrait of the composer himself, revealing the innermost source of his creative muse.


_________________
Peter Frankland
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
kullervopete
Conductor in Residence
Conductor in Residence


Joined: 08 Jun 2007
Posts: 1909
Location: Bury Lancs UK

PostPosted: Mon May 23, 2016 9:11 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The following letter to the Gramophone was from 2006.--kp



Dear Sir,

In Jayne Lee Wilson’s first letter [November, page 23] she was clearly rattled by Tully Potter’s effrontery in daring to suggest that Suk’s Asrael Symphony was ‘superior to several Mahler symphonies and often like Mahler with better taste’. [Awards issue, page 44] She then inferred that by reason of Suks ‘narrower emotional range’ this somehow gave Mahler’s music ‘superiority’. In my response [January, page 14] I outlined fundamental objections to this viewpoint and it is significant that in her latest reply [March, page 17] she fails to challenge my argument. Also she seems unable or unwilling to grasp the nature of symphonic development which in ‘the golden age’ culminated in the works of Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven. I also put forward a valid argument as to why the symphony went into a steady decline during the late romantic period when many so called symphonies were in fact inflated symphonic poems; again Jayne Lee Wilson had no response. I wholeheartedly agree with her however ‘that the great river of the symphony is wide and deep with many tributaries’, indeed Jean Sibelius himself compared the symphony to a river, ‘Its born from various rivulets which seek each other and in this way the river proceeds wide and powerful towards the sea, the musical thoughts, the motives that are, are the things that must create the form and stabilize the path’.
Jayne Lee Wilson refers to ‘the formal processes’ in what is arguably the greatest orchestral work of the twentieth century, Sibelius’s fourth symphony, whose roots go right back to the late Beethoven quartets. Sibelius rejected the romantic opulence and harmonic complication’s that followed Wagner’s Tristan, but he also significantly, rejected from early on the ‘classical Austro-German sonata construction. This is not to imply that his symphonies are not profoundly symphonic, for he, is probably the true post Beethoven symphonist in the same way that Mahler is the true symphonist post-Wagner.
The great mansion of the ‘symphony’ has many rooms and we should all rejoice in its diversity, the term as long been associated with the efforts of composer’s to raise orchestral music to the highest and most complete human level, within a single concentrated artistic vision. Mahler and Sibelius were undoubtedly the two key figures of the symphony into the twentieth century, but in looking back at the achievements of these two great polar opposites I am reminded of a quote, was it Stanislavski who once remarked ‘celebrate the art in yourself, not the self in your art,’ for me Sibelius took the former and Mahler perhaps the latter.

Yours sincerely,

_________________
Peter Frankland
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
kullervopete
Conductor in Residence
Conductor in Residence


Joined: 08 Jun 2007
Posts: 1909
Location: Bury Lancs UK

PostPosted: Sat Jun 25, 2016 9:07 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The following essay dates from 2008 and concerns a mysterious Chamber work that Sibelius might have been working on during his study in Vienna--kp.

Vienna, a lost chamber work and the genesis of En Saga
By Peter Frankland

In Robert Layton’s fine book ‘Sibelius’ in the master musician’s series
[J. M. Dent. 1965] R. L. in discussing En Saga, mentions that Sibelius had been working on a chamber piece during his year in Vienna [1890-91] apparently an Octet for flute, clarinet and strings which seems to have become the original version of the orchestral En Saga. But at some point the chamber version was lost, and Andrew Barnett in his superb book ‘Sibelius’ [Yale University Press. 2007] confirms that little is known with certainty about the origin of the themes and motifs.
Serious doubts have been raised in recent times has to whether this chamber work in fact ever existed at all. But we have considerable evidence from Sibelius himself, from letters that he wrote and comments that he made that En Saga did originate from the mysterious chamber piece that he worked on in Vienna.
Years after his Vienna study period, Sibelius told biographer, Karl Ekman, Jr, that in the spring of 1891, while in Vienna, he had begun to compose an Octet for flute, clarinet and strings. By September 1892 it had become a Septet. In November it had evolved into a work he called ‘Ballet Scene No.2’. One month later he completed his orchestral work En Saga, which he told biographer Erik Furuhjelm had at its basis the Octet for flute, clarinet and strings. Sadly all sketches of the Octet, Septet and Ballet Scene No. 2 have all vanished, so we don’t know just how similar the lost chamber pieces were to the first version of En Saga, but it seems likely that some of the themes were first developed in the chamber works.
Sibelius always valued the worth of youthful impressions and he once told his pupil Bengt de Torne, ‘Be careful not to be a spendthrift with the themes and musical ideas of your youth. They are the richest and best you will ever invent, and if you cannot give them at once their definite shape, they will later on form the basis of some of your happiest conceptions’. Whereupon he recounted in detail one specific experience of his own along such lines, the very first draft of En Saga for the projected octet, beside others in passing. ‘In your old age,’ he continued, ‘you will look back on the ideas of your youth, and you will, perhaps, be fortunate enough to find some of them in your sketchbooks quite forgotten amongst many other notes, and never used. Then you will take them up, and the ardor of your youth expressed in the themes themselves will be combined with the knowledge and experience acquired during a long musical career.’ What marvelous advice for any budding composer and just as relevant today.
Questioned about En Saga in a 1921 interview with A. O. Vaisanen, Sibelius mentions ‘In the beginning, it [En Saga] was written for a nonetto, so it seems that the young Sibelius was certainly busy during his time in Vienna has his idea’s evolved. Sibelius’s letters to his friend, Adolf Paul refer in greater detail to a chamber work [this time a Septet] and En Saga. September 27th, 1892 ‘A Septetto I intend to start putting together. I have an entirely new form for it, of that kind-some moods-contrasts and clear, bright colors and sharp outlines. Do not tell any living person of it because not a single tune exists yet, I have got my energy back. I was, you know, completely wiped out in spring after Kullervo’. By November 13th the composition had evolved into Ballet Scene No. 2. ‘I wonder if [Felix] Weingartner would be interested in getting a ballet Scene No. 2 of me [it is completely like a fairy tale in the Romantic Style, 1820. Do you believe it? Keep now you, the mighty, your wings over me….’. On December 10th, ‘I have completed a ‘Saga’ for an orchestra, I would believe that you would be charmed by it. It contains ecstasy. I have thought of the paintings of Bocklin. He is the one who paints the air too bright, the swans too white, the sea too blue and so on. You wonderful man…’.
Following the first performance of Kullervo in 1892, Robert Kajanus approached Sibelius for an orchestral work that he hoped would become a popular repertory piece and the result was En Saga. Kajanus must have been staggered when he received the score, in the words of Cecil Gray ‘The voice of the far north became fully articulate in music with this work’. Sibelius revised the work that we know today in 1902.
Gregory Barrett is a distinguished professor of Clarinet in the NIU School of music, Illinois. As an enthusiastic Sibelian, Prof. Barrett had searched through Sibelius’s chamber works with the hope of finding something substantial for the clarinet. Of the many pieces listed in the catalogue, he found only four that included the clarinet, the lovely original version of the Musette, for two clarinets and two bassoons from the King Christian 11 incidental music and the other three, written for brass septet. Prof. Barrett decided to try and find a copy of the unpublished version of En Saga, which would be closest to the lost Septet. He new that Osmo Vanska, a former clarinet player himself, had recorded it with the Lahti Symphony Orchestra. Vanska informed him that the Helsinki Philharmonic had the 1892 unpublished handwritten score and Jari Eskola, former librarian to the orchestra revealed to Prof. Barrett a rather fascinating story about the score that he had heard from that great Sibelius conductor, Paavo Berglund.
The original handwritten score was first kept in the Helsinki Philharmonics library. A record card with the score shows that Sibelius himself conducted two performances in 1893 and then in 1935 Georg Schneevoigt gave three. Stamps on the score show that at some point, it was housed in Schneevoigt’s own library. Performances were given in Helsinki in 1958 and 1963 and then mysteriously, the score vanished. In another extraordinary twist, conductor Alun Francis spotted it in an antiquarian shop in Oxford, England. Francis gave the score to Paavo Berglund and it was now returned to its original home with the Helsinki Philharmonic. Librarian Eskola photocopied the score and after obtaining permission from the Sibelius estate, Prof. Barrett set about the task of reconstructing a version of En Saga for flute, clarinet, two violins, viola, cello and double bass.
In its original form, En Saga is a large-scale composition lasting more than twenty minutes. Sibelius had described it as ‘the expression of a state of mind’. Barrett elected to try and keep all the richness of En Saga in his chamber version and he only deleted two of Sibelius’s 952 measures. There are 17 tempo changes and 48 key modulations and unlike most tonal pieces that begin and end in the same key, En Saga begins in A minor and ends in E-flat minor. The orchestral version ends with a long clarinet solo, accompanied by the strings, so that was easy to keep. Prof. Barrett tried to keep as much colour as possible from the musical layers and richness of the orchestration. Sometimes clarinet is used in place of the horns, sometimes the cello. Of course, Sibelius makes prominent use of the bass drum and Barrett captures this effect with the double bass.
The historic premiere of the En Saga Septet was given on June14th, 2003 in the Musikverein Brahms Saal in Vienna, with Prof. Barrett on clarinet and six members of the Lahti Symphony Orchestra. A fitting venue, Vienna the city were Sibelius first sketched his lost chamber work. It was significant that Breitkopf and Hartel published the En Saga Septet and further performances have been given around the world.
Purists will no doubt have considerable reservations about the Septet and we can never know just how Sibelius’s chamber work might have sounded, had it ever seen the light of day. Aino Sibelius preferred the original version of En Saga ‘Papa removed some violent passages from it. Now En Saga is more civilized, more polished’. And undoubtedly the extensive pastoral middle section that Sibelius removed had contained some of his most modern musical language so far, but as we all know, Sibelius’s intense self criticism led him to ruthlessly banish much fine music from later works such as the violin concerto and the fifth symphony.
To quote Prof, Barrett, ‘The lost En Saga Septet has been reborn. Now flutists, clarinettist's and string players worldwide have a major chamber piece by Sibelius to perform and enjoy’.

_________________
Peter Frankland
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
kullervopete
Conductor in Residence
Conductor in Residence


Joined: 08 Jun 2007
Posts: 1909
Location: Bury Lancs UK

PostPosted: Sun Aug 07, 2016 9:21 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I penned the following essay in 2005 in which I discuss the Third Symphony of Sibelius, a work that as always meant a great deal to me--kp


Sibelius’s ‘English’ Symphony
By Peter Frankland

On 24th September 1904, the Sibelius family moved into their new home at Jarvenpaa. A letter from Sibelius this same month closes with the remark: ‘I have begun my new symphony’. It took him three years and was first performed on 26th September 1907 in Helsinki with Sibelius conducting.
From the outset this third Symphony has been perhaps the least performed of the seven. He himself described it in intimate circles as his beloved and least fortunate child. I must confess that this symphony has always meant a great deal to me, and there are few after Mozart that I love so much.
The very opening bars announce the arrival of Sibelius the classicist. The forward thrust and athletic dynamism of the opening theme in unison cellos and double basses would have pleased Beethoven and Schubert. Parts of the development are said to depict fog banks drifting along the English coast. A new, hymn-like theme appears in the coda, giving the impression of some traveler pausing, alone in desolate nature, rapt and exultant as he looks back on his journey.
The central Andantino con moto, quasi allegretto brings a degree of repose. Its key, G sharp minor, is remote from the tonal scheme of the first movement, and it has a certain kinship with the allegretto of Brahms Third Symphony. Two distinct schools of thought exist as to the speed of this movement. On the one hand we have the very slow and measured pace adopted by Robert Kajanus in his early recording, a tradition continued today by Sir Colin Davies. On the other hand there is the quicker, more dance-like style from such fine Sibelians as Anthony Collins and Kurt Sanderling. It is a matter of personal taste but, like all great art, this music can stand up to a wide range of interpretations.
The last movement might be thought of as almost textbook Sibelius in that scraps of themes are tossed around until a great, thumping tune emerges to dominate the rest of the movement.
One final point on the construction of this great symphony: Sibelius separates the classical from the Wagnerian in this work, the former in the first movement and the latter in the last. Some wonderful chemistry would have to be discovered in order to integrate these extremes. This was accomplished in the Fifth Symphony!
Sibelius’s Third bears a dedication to Granville Bantock, one of the composer’s most enthusiastic champions in England. Here is Bantock talking about Sibelius during the early years of radio [1940]:
‘He is, as you all know or ought to know, the great Finnish composer, I might almost say the greatest living composer in the world today, and happily alive and well. As a creative artist he stands alone on a mountain summit, high above and far removed from all rivalry and […] slander of the multitude. His thoughts are with the eternal mysteries of nature and the hero legends of his race. He is like a sensitive microphone, making new and strangely original records of the musical impressions as they germinate and develop in his mind. His music brings its own message to all who are willing to learn and are hoping to unravel some of the hidden secrets of nature and the soul of man’.
We may smile at this poetic tribute to a great composer, but I think it encapsulates the genius of Sibelius’s ‘English’ symphony, standing as it does out of step with much of the music being written at this time. There is none of the exotic colour provided by the likes of Ravel or Scriabin, little of the dissonance found in Schoenberg and Stravinsky. What he explored was the more fundamental field of musical structure, and it is above all else this which has given Jean Sibelius such a special place in the history of the symphony.

_________________
Peter Frankland
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Display posts from previous:   
Post new topic   Reply to topic    The Sibelius Forum Forum Index -> Sibelius Literature All times are GMT - 5 Hours
Page 1 of 1

 
Jump to:  
You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot vote in polls in this forum

Top posters
1. kullervopete
2. Andrew B
3. Tapkaara


Click HERE to make suggestions on what to do with this box!



smartDark Style by Smartor
Powered by phpBB © 2001, 2002 phpBB Group
 

Abuse - Report Abuse - TOS & Privacy.
Powered by forumup.com free forum, create your free forum! Created by Hyarbor & Qooqoa

Page generation time: 0.286