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What's your favorite Sibelius song?

 
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 07, 2007 9:20 pm    Post subject: What's your favorite Sibelius song? Reply with quote

There are many good ones, but perhaps my favorite is Den första kyssen (The First Kiss) op. 37/1.

Not only do I find the melody intriguing, but the words by J.L. Runeberg are quite powerful:

(Translated from the original Swedish)

The evening star sat
On the edge of a silver cloud,
From the dusk of the grove
A maiden asked her:
Tell me, evening star,
What is thought in heaven
When the first kiss is given to a lover?

And heaven's shy daughter
Was heard to reply:
The angelic host of light
looks down onto the earth
And it sees its own joy reflected;
Only death turns its eyes aside and weeps.


Wow.

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PostPosted: Mon Jan 08, 2007 3:17 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Many good ones indeed, not least Den första kyssen. Ultimately I would have to plump for the two pantheistic masterpeieces from Op.38 - Höstkväll and På verandan vid havet (both written in 1903 to Rydberg’s words) - because they plumb such depths both musically and psychologically.

On the lighter side, the duet Tanken, JS 192 (1915), a Runeberg setting (not to be confused with the much early a cappella choral work to the same poem), has a grace comparable to the 'Miranda' movement in 'The Tempest'. The words could be construed as having a nationalist meaning but the piece was composed Eero and Saimi Järnefelt’s silver wedding so one shouldn't overstress the patriotic element.

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Kurkikohtaus
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 15, 2007 6:21 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Speaking of "The First Kiss", does anyone else hear a similarity between the main motive and Grieg's Solveig's Song?

Unfortunately, I do not know the Op. 38 pieces at all. I know the songs through a Karita Mattila recording, which do not include Op. 38.


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From the works offered therein, my favourite is the haunting Norden, Op. 90 No. 1.

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PostPosted: Mon Jan 15, 2007 6:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I can't say I'd been particularly struck by a similarity between Den första kyssen and Solveig's Song - if there is one, perhaps it's more in rhythm than anything else (unless I'm missing something!). Harmonically I find much more Wagner in it.

For me the influence of Grieg is easier to spot in works like the F major Violin Sonata, JS 178 (1889). I'm hugely glad, though, that Sibb didn't follow Grieg's example and write a seemingly endless succession of Peasant Songs, Cow Calls and the like.

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PostPosted: Wed Dec 05, 2007 11:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sibelius wrote some glorious songs, on my short list 'Arioso' the sheer sweep of its melody is heart wrenching.
'The diamond on the march snow', utterly magical.
'Autumn Evening', one of his greatest songs and Victor Rydberg's poem sums up Sibelius's art.

The sun is setting, and the clouds are wandering mournfully across the sky low over the windswept lake while murmuring forests grow dusky... Alone in desolate nature among the rocks and spindrift, a wanderer stands transfixed, rapt and exultant. He feels his soul at one with the song of the wind in the starless night. Does his sorrow die like a cry lost in the autumn's mighty lament?

For me Kirsten Flagstad vintage 1958 is the one to go for.--kullervopete.

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PostPosted: Tue Apr 20, 2010 7:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've started rereading Andrew B's biography of Sibelius, and based on some of the wonderful descriptions of the songs and my still-lingering impression of Soderstrom's video of "Since then I have Questioned no Further" (one might remember my small "quote of the month" elsewhere in Vocal Music; the Op. 17/1 thread). So I've gone on Youtube to listen to some of the songs listed in here (of course, starting with the abovementioned). Of this song there are two versions that stood out to me: one by Anne-Sophie von Otter and another by Nilsson. They're both quite good, but I think that while Nilsson captures the "arc" of the piece slightly better, von Otter succeeds more in the emotional department, nailing the climax (though still, in my mind's... ear... Soderstrom still seems more perfect... must get out that DVD someday...).

"Höstkväll" is certainly a very powerful piece of music, and I think I should listen to it a bit more before I can say anything about it. The thing that really got me about this song was the last minute or so.

"Den första kyssen" is my favorite one so far. The way the music follows the words is fantastic, and the music is great besides.

I very much like "Svarta rosor," especially the way the music changes perceptibly each time the verse "For sorrow has roses black as night" returns.

"Var det en dröm?" was very striking, and I found the relation between the words and music very poignant.

"Norden" is, to me, the most interesting song I've yet heard, with the piano chords being a perfect, evocative description of the subject matter, never moving from the "short-long-short" pattern and being very dissonant and close.
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 28, 2010 7:03 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

A lot of the them. I like very much the Sibelius' sången. In chronological orden (I can't resolve a position acording my taste):


Jägargossen opus 13 nº7 (a nordic Schubert Lied)

Se'n har jag ej frågat mera opus 17 nº1 (melancoly, wonderful modal melodies)

Under strandens granar opus 13 nº1 (mighty)

Demanten på marssnön opus 36 nº6 (very beatiful)

Flickan kom ifrån sin älsklings möte opus 37 nº5 (romantic)

Soluppgång opus 37 nº3 (magical)

Hertig Magnus opus 57 nº6 (legendary)

Giv mig ej glans, ej guld, ej prakt opus 1 nº4 (good feelings!)

Arioso opus 13 (very beatiful melodies)

Kaiutar opus 72 nº4 (fairy, magical, I can see real nymphs)

Norden opus 90 nº1 (mystical)

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PostPosted: Sun Dec 05, 2010 8:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Norden, Op.90 - I can't get enough of this song. It starts mystical and melancholic, but has this "emotional crescendo" throughout and is in the end ebbing with something best descriped as pure longing. It's like the composer is getting something really heavy from his chest.

Soluppgang, Op. 37 - A still, clear and beautiful winter scene painted perfectly and then stirred up. Amazing harmonies and textures in the piano but I don't get the text, it's as its a part of some bigger poem or story. Does anyone know anything about it?

Höstkvall, Op.38 - Very dramatic and lyrical, with unique harmonies in the piano. Because of its operatic nature I like the orchestral version better.
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PostPosted: Mon Dec 06, 2010 11:15 am    Post subject: Reply with quote


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(video is
horrible)

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kullervopete
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PostPosted: Mon Dec 06, 2010 11:52 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Saturnus wrote:


Soluppgang, Op. 37 - A still, clear and beautiful winter scene painted perfectly and then stirred up. Amazing harmonies and textures in the piano but I don't get the text, it's as its a part of some bigger poem or story. Does anyone know anything about it?



Hi Saturnus, As you probably know the words are by the Swedish Poet Tor Hedberg [1862-1931] 'Sunrise' opus 37, No.3 is a most interesting song and looks forward in some respects to 'Night Ride and Sunrise' opus 55. Sibelius re-worked the vocal line and made small changes to the piano accompanyment. Hedbergs poem begins with an evocation of the world at dawn. In the central section a Knight looks upon the scene and you can hear his horn call in the music. Its not a particuarly outstanding poem but one can see how it would have appealed to Sibelius.--kp

'Soluppgang' [Sunrise] by Tor Hedberg.

Beneath heavens purple fire
silently lie lake and land;
it is the time of dawn.
Snow-covered branch and frost-white twig
stand out prominently
from the red backdrop.

The Knight stands by the window
listening for the sound of battle,
pacing the floor.
but a small snow-white hand
gently cools his hat brow
changing his resolve.

The Knight puts his horn to his mouth,
and blows fiercely at the dawn,
over the silent land;
the note rings clear and fragile;
the fire slowly dies, golden red,
as the sun slowly rises.

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PostPosted: Tue Dec 07, 2010 8:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

My problem with this poem is that the beginning of the last verse doesn't make any sense. Why did the knight blow the horn after his "forehead's fire" has been cooled? I've never been good at understanding poems.

I've looked very closely for any similarities or connections between that song and the Nightrided and Sunrise, and I can't really find any. In my opinion Sibelius tackles the subject of sunrise completely differently in those two pieces (I also looked at the orchestral version of Soluppgang). Since the sunrise marks an end in the Soluppgang and a contrast to the knight's rage, but in Nightride the sunrise marks the beginning of the second half of the tone poem and signals something new, being a contrast to the very repetitive and monotone 1st section.
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PostPosted: Fri Dec 10, 2010 10:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Saturnus wrote:
My problem with this poem is that the beginning of the last verse doesn't make any sense. Why did the knight blow the horn after his "forehead's fire" has been cooled? I've never been good at understanding poems.

I've looked very closely for any similarities or connections between that song and the Nightrided and Sunrise, and I can't really find any. In my opinion Sibelius tackles the subject of sunrise completely differently in those two pieces (I also looked at the orchestral version of Soluppgang). Since the sunrise marks an end in the Soluppgang and a contrast to the knight's rage, but in Nightride the sunrise marks the beginning of the second half of the tone poem and signals something new, being a contrast to the very repetitive and monotone 1st section.


Sibelius himself was frequently troubled by words. He once remarked that 'My songs can also be sung without words. They are not so dependent on words as the songs of many other composers'. He had many doubts regarding the text in many of his songs and choral pieces.: 'The words' are always a burden to my art. As regards ;Nightride and Sunrise' I agree that there does not appear to be any point of contact with the song, at least superficially. But Sibelius was expressing a rather different sunrise inside the confines of this miniature, but it is certainly a precursor for many fine works. I believe that a thread runs through many of Sibelius's pieces. Looking at 'Nightride and Sunrise' there is a spooky passage on woodwind and pizzicato just before the 'Sunrise' final section. This always reminds me of a similar woodwind passage in the finale of the fourth Symphony. Perhaps a clue in this enigmatic masterpiece that the darkest hour is just before the dawn.--kp

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PostPosted: Thu Oct 25, 2012 4:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The songs with piano are so far out of my regular listening that I prefer all the orchestral pieces with vocal. Snöfrid, ballade from Karelia and some of the choral works.
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 11, 2013 5:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Again, impossible to name just one song. I´ve always been surprised, how Sibelius tends to get reduced to his pure symphonic works, as he has written so many remarkable works in every other genre.

I would want to hint at "Var det en dröm", "Demanten pa marssnön", "Flickan kom ifran..." and especially "Varen flyktar hastigt" in its orchestrated version. I really love, when a composer is finding means to stress the words´meaning and "Varen" is a striking example of "congenial" tone-setting: A short song, that already "flyktade", hardly it has begun, with the strings quick downward movement, picturing the fleeing of time so perfectly. A masterly miniature!

Another song, that up to now surprisingly nobody ever mentioned in this forum, is "Koskenlaskian morsiamet", which, again, contains a striking musical description of dangerously whirling water.

As I hate to be onesided, I take the opportunity to hint at other great songs, I listen to at the moment: Vaughan-William´s "Silent noon", Finzi´s "Come away death" and Pfitzner´s "Der Gärtner" and "Der Einsame". All worth a listen!
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