Saturday, March 22, 2014

Sibelius: Source Materials

Jean Sibelius (1865 - 1957)

The other day I mentioned a book on Sibelius that is really not useful as it is stuffed full of unsupported blather that has almost nothing to do with the actual music. Today I'll mention a couple of places that do have useful information. As usual, a good place to start is the Wikipedia article which is, as most of them are, a concise and accurate outline of his life and works with lots of references and a good selection of other places to look. One of these is a website devoted to the composer that has a lot of good material. Here is the portal. Here is the access to articles on each of the symphonies. Here is the article on the Violin Concerto. If you follow any of these links on individual pieces, you will see that the articles are quite well put together with some of the context of the composition and even a few pages from the score illustrating a reasonable analysis of the music. Pretty good effort! Still, I think there is a bit left for me to do.

As for recordings, the reissue of Paavo Berglund's recordings from the mid-70s with the Bournemouth Symphony is quite good and reasonably priced at Amazon. As a sample of his work, here is the last movement of the Violin Concerto with Ida Haendel as the soloist:

And, of course, what got me started on all this was the brilliant recent recording by Hilary Hahn of the Sibelius Concerto paired with the one by Schoenberg.

Both doing some basic research and some listening (I was listening to the Berglund recording of the Symphony No. 2 yesterday and realized that I hadn't actually listened to it for about twenty years!) as well as a lot of other responsibilities have delayed me working on my posts on Sibelius. But I hope to have the first one up tomorrow with, hopefully, some new insights into his music.

Let's end with the first movement of the Symphony No. 2:

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