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Symphony No. 2

 
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Is the Symphony No. 2 a great piece?
I only enjoy the last movement
0%
 0%  [ 0 ]
Yes, can you say wonderful!!!!=D
61%
 61%  [ 8 ]
Not my favorite...let me recomend a better symphony for you to hear...
23%
 23%  [ 3 ]
Im proud to be a conductor! The door is that way, if you want to leave.
15%
 15%  [ 2 ]
Total Votes : 13

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PostPosted: Tue Jun 12, 2007 2:09 am    Post subject: Symphony No. 2 Reply with quote

Hey guys! Very Happy

Im still new to Sibelius(He's one of the composers I need to "digest" more!)...But Kurki recomended that newbies should listen to his Symphony No. 2 as a starter. I've just finished listening to it...I just love the last movement...the conductor of the recording did a great job making the movement so "climatic" and full of excitement...Anyway, I would like some of your opinions and "synopsis" of this work.( Kurki forgive me for asking such a dumb question, But it will be interesting to hear your opinion and synopsis from a "conductor's" point of view). Well, thank you and I look forward to your replies! Cool
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 12, 2007 2:55 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I stand by my recommendation that this is a good symphony for Sibelius beginners to start with.

And while I enjoy a slew of other pieces more than the 2nd symphony, I still consider it to be a great work.

3/4, you wanted some conductor insights... I have performed this piece only once... The 3rd mvmt is incredibly difficult to pull of energetically, accurately and all the while smoothly. You need an excellent string section, or it begins and ends as a grueling technical excersise.

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PostPosted: Tue Jun 12, 2007 7:34 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I voted "Yes, can you say wonderful!!!!=D" because it is my favorite Sibelius symphony. Given its popularity, I wonder if that makes me appear to be a beginner (even though I'm not)? Perhaps, but I don't care. Razz

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PostPosted: Tue Jun 12, 2007 8:14 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I don't think it makes you look like a beginner. That's like saying you're a beginner if you like Beethoven's 5th.

But I know how you feel. In forums and at post-concert receptions, there is a feeling that if one likes that which is popular, then one isn't really knowledgeable. One must like that which is rarer and therefore more elevated to truly be considered initiated in the Classical tradition.

I don't mind the fact that Classical has an elitist element, but this view goes a little too far in my mind.

So long live Sibelius 2nd, Beethoven's 5th and, well, The Planets for that matter.

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PostPosted: Tue Jun 12, 2007 8:21 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

i prefer 1, but 2 is fine.

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PostPosted: Tue Jun 12, 2007 8:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wonderful ... I could hardly say anything else! Very Happy

'Synopsis' of the work: well, as long as nobody starts spouting a load of old tosh about it being a 'Liberation Symphony' or 'a Finnish artist's reply to repression', then I'll be happy.

There are, however, some sources of inspiration that are worth mentioning because they are supported by evidence:–

(1) the woodwind theme near the start (bar 9 ff) was taken straight from No. 3 of a set of Piano Works for Children, JS 148. Sadly the piano collection never progressed beyond the sketches, but it contains many themes that Sibelius later used in other works.

(2) When composing the work one of Sibelius's preoccupations was the Don Juan story, and he was planning a work based on that theme entitled Festival: Four Tone-Poems for Orchestra:
Sibelius noted alongside a sketch of the main theme of the slow movement: ‘Don Juan. Sit in the twilight in my palace, a guest [the Stone Guest] comes in. I ask more than once who he is. – No answer. I try to amuse him. He remains silent. Finally the stranger starts to sing. Then Don Juan recognizes who he is: Death.’

(3) As for the finale, Aino Sibelius said that the lamenting second theme above ostinato scale passages was originally composed in memory of Sibelius’s sister-in-law, Elli Järnefelt, who had committed suicide.

(4) In June 1899 Sibelius and Kajanus visited Axel Gallén’s studio in Ruovesi to celebrate the christening of Gallén’s children Kirsti and Jorma. Kirsti was not quite 3 years old and can thus hardly be described as a reliable witness, but she later recalled how Sibelius later improvised at the piano: ‘Now you shall hear what impression Kalela [Gallén’s home] and its moods make on me’ - and he played a theme that later found its way into the coda of the symphony’s finale.

But as always (at least with Sibelius) there is a vast distance between the source of inspiration and the finished product and it cannot be stressed too much that the symphony as we know it is not programmatic and does not depict any of these characters of events in any meaningful sense.

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PostPosted: Wed Jun 13, 2007 1:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I notice there is now a vote in the I am a conductor column. For the record, my vote is in the "Wonderful" column.

3/4, I'm wondering what you mean by that last poll option... ?? I didn't quite get it the first time I saw it, and decided I would wait until someone put a vote there before I asked. My confusion is in the fact that I'm not sure whether that option is supposed to express affinity or dislike towards the piece. Can you give us a clue?

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PostPosted: Wed Jun 13, 2007 5:48 am    Post subject: Scherzo Reply with quote

Kurki,

That last poll option was my little "scherzo"(joke) for the poll. I was bored at the time and was curious to see how much votes(if any) get into that option....Anyway, I think it's a "neutral" opinion of the Symphony No. 2..."Whatever the conductor wants..he gets it"..(from the orchestra, of course!)..Hope I didn't offend anybody!
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 15, 2007 7:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have to say that the 2nd is my least favorite Sibelius symphony, the only one that I had to learn to like. The finale sounds as if he wanted to write a Big Tune in the manner of Tchaikovsky. You can imagine how Tchaikovsky would have written this finale: the melody would have soared and soared. Sibelius' Big Tune fizzles after six notes. It proceeds in little wheezes after that, but compared, say, to the Adagio from Sleeping Beauty which it somewhat resembles, it just doesn't have the flow. He seems to be composing against the grain. He just isn't a Big Tune kind of composer.

Of course Sibelius can do wonders with six notes, and that do-re-mi-ti-do-re shows up quite a bit in the quiet development section.

I've always admired the first movement as a good example of what he does best.

I've probably earned the anger of a lot of people here, so I'll stop now.
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 15, 2007 8:55 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

i selected the 'conductor' option because i've conducted wind bands (beginner - college) since 1972. Smile
it's often not 'the conductor's way', but rather 'what sounds best w/this group'...er...if said conductor has any damn sense. Laughing

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PostPosted: Sat Jun 16, 2007 1:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Mark G. Simon wrote:
I've probably earned the anger of a lot of people here, so I'll stop now.
Not at all, your criticism is specific and fair.

Mark G. Simon wrote:
The finale sounds as if he wanted to write a Big Tune in the manner of Tchaikovsky ... (Sibelius) just isn't a Big Tune kind of composer.


I think the 2nd theme of the Finale of the 1st Symphony fits this statement more. I rather like the "hymn" of the 2nd Symphony in that it foreshadows what we then hear in the Finale of the 3rd Symphony. Also, when played correctly in the Finnish manner, It can sound almost exotic.

The trick is that the last note of the tune is often separated from the penultimate note and played as an upbeat to the next phrase in a very Germanic way. This is wrong. The last note (3rd beat of the bar) is the last note, and should be somehow separated a little from the downbeat, either with a breath or with a diminuendo.

(This effect is achieved very well by Vanska/Lahti.)

I've read that this effect is based on the natural rhythms of Finnish speech patterns. When the tune is played this way, I find that it completely loses its Tchaikovskian tint, which is a good thing.

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PostPosted: Mon Feb 04, 2013 7:52 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm sort of split on 2. Great piece for concerts, but I do not have a stereo to produce a likeable sound.

It was for many years, 1970-2000, the only symphony I was familiar with. I had it and the 4th on LP. The fourth I did not understand at all. It was mysterious and had bells after an awful lot of notes. It was not till 2010 I had all 7 on CD.

I'll be hearing the 2nd in April by a semiprofessional orchestra.

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PostPosted: Mon Feb 04, 2013 1:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

April 2nd is a fantastic day. Many important people in the world are born on April 2nd, like Sir Alec Guiness (Obi-Wan) and Paul Newman and a bunch of conductors.
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PostPosted: Sun Feb 10, 2013 10:47 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Adding on to rambling on Symphony 2.

It was for many years my entry to Sibelius. I came to realize the structure of longer works. And it does have good examples of all the features of Sibelius.

But there are parts in the first and last movements I came to tolerate, not actually like. So as I get more familiar with the symphonies, my playing recordings has started to drop the 2nd to the bottom. I will still happily compare new conductors to the favorites with the 2nd, but even the 1st (also difficult for me three four years back) seems to have more appeal to me now.

Maybe I played the 2nd too many times? I can play the Vänskä version in Lahti unlimited times, though.

It might be safer to say I enjoy the first more than the average recording of the 2nd. Most often the strings come out poorly when played loudly at the top of their range. Live is always better.

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