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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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