LPO/Osmo Vnsk - Sibelius Symphony cycle: 1 - From the Younger Generation by ProQuest


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									Orchestral & Choral
Sibelius in London:                                                                                  spirit more than that of the normal view of
                                                                                                     resurgent Finnish nationalism.
LPO/Osmo Vänskä - Sibelius                                                                              Symphony No 3, always overlooked by
Symphony cycle:                                                                                      the general public nowadays, had proph-
1 – From the Younger Generation                                                                      etic touches under Vänskä’s careful guid-
Royal Festival Hall                                                                                  ance, never rushing the music beyond its
                                                                                                     boundaries. New research shows sketches
  n this year of intense Mahler anniversary                                                          from an earlier, aborted oratorio, found
I celebrations, The LPO bravely programm-
ed a cycle of symphonies by Mahler’s
                                                                                                     their way into this work which accounts for
                                                                                                     the numerous references to chorale type
symphonic antipode, Jean Sibelius, in Jan-                                                           melodies heard in each movement. The
uary and February at the Royal Festival Hall                                                         middle movement benefited from Vänskä’s
with Osmo Vänskä in charge. Vänskä is                                                                steady pace allowing the music to speak
best known for his extensive BIS record-                                                             of a querulous sense of human frailty.
ings of the complete Sibelius orchestral                                                             Altogether this was a highlight of the cycle
repertoire and has built a reputation in                                                             showing the work to more interesting and
Europe and the United States on the                                                                  more important than usually thought.
success of this project.                                                                                The gap between Symphonies 3 and 4
    His general approach is, therefore, well                                                         showed a marked change in the comp-
known to Sibelians. For instance he takes                                                            oser’s mood and development. Written in
the first movements of the first two sym-                                        Jean Sibelius       the shadow of addiction recovery, after his
phonies in a brisk, no nonsense way. This                                                            scrape with cancer, (he had to abjure from
seems to have confronted the LPO’s                                                                   his favoured cigars and alcohol) and his
existing view of more traditional, not to say      oped into a work full of anxiety and morbid       discovery of Schoenberg’s new develop-
leisurely tempi, which led to a less than          concern with Death as befits its origins          ments in mainstream European music,
successful first concert with the orchestra        from sketches for four symphonic poems            Symphony 4 strikes a unique profile in the
being dragged along by its conductor in            on the subject of Don Juan confronting his        cycle. Seemingly gaunt and austere in its
very animated form. Brisk tempi demand a           mortality. Sibelius, too, had suffered the        sound world, it nevertheless contains pass-
response of blazing conviction but the             death of one daughter and the threat of           ages of great passion and beauty which
players seemed reluctant to step up to the         another during the composition period,            actually illuminates the general feeling of
plate, the brass being particularly reticent.      resulting in a nervous breakdown. Vänskä          darkness. Vänskä’s performance was
    Thereafter matters improved with mutual        bought this tension out in his specially          superb in balancing this ambiguity and he
confidence being built between Vänskä              crafted manner so that the grandiloquent          was helped by some wonderful playing by
and the players. Symphony No 2 devel-              finale became a liberation of the human           the orchestra; this, in its unflashy way, was

    CBSO/Opolais/Slobodeniouk                      to establish himself on the UK concert            extracts from Eugène Onegin and Otello
                                                   circuit (he’s currently based in Finland), but    was similarly well judged, and further en-
        he CBSO is on a roll at the moment,        both are artists with huge talent and great       hanced by outstanding contributions from
    T   thanks to its dynamic new music
    director Andris Nelsons. But when he is
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