The TSO does all of the Sibelius Symphonies, part 2
The Toronto Symphony Orchestra
Thomas Dausgaard, conductor
Pekka Kuusisto, violin

Thursday April 17, 2010 7.30pm
Roy Thomson Hall, Toronto

Sibelius: Finlandia, Op. 26
Sibelius: Symphony No. 3 in C Major, Op. 52
Sibelius: Cantique for Violin and Orchestra, Op. 77, No. 1
Sibelius: Devotion for Violin and Orchestra, Op. 77, No. 2
Sibelius: Symphony No. 4 in A Minor, Op. 63

The story so far ...

Brevity was mentioned.

And now, we continue ...

Brevity seems an odd word to link to a work that runs about 30 minutes, which is about the duration listed in the TSO's programme notes for each of the Sibelius Symphonies. In context, compared to other symphonic works of Sibelius's time it's apt though. That word really doesn't say much of anything about the music, so we'll not mention it again.

Sibelius's 4th Symphony is an odd piece, a hard, cold piece, pretty much devoid of the dramatic and discursive elements standard in the symphonic tradition. This music strikes me as being in a form of stasis; techniques such as pedal points and ostinato figures are frequent, but not the only aspects feeding into this impression of temporal suspension. The work seems to be a sculpture in sound, sound suspended in time, forward motion erased.

For a change, following this work there was no standing ovation from this Toronto audience; there was almost a feelign of baffled appreciation. I personally was impressed by the quality of the performance and the power of the work, but I found applause an inappropriate, extroverted response to this introvert work.

The 3rd Symphony is radically different than it's sucessor. As with the first concert in this series, hearing the two works in proximity really serves to illustrate the contrasts between them: in concision the works were similar, the feeling of stasis was shared (although far less marked in the 3rd). However, the 3rd was a far more approachable work, more linear in its approach and far less forbidding in mood. Especially notable was the slow movement ... variations (mainly via changes to accompaniment and additions of counterpoint) on a beautiful theme, with frequent fascinating detail and syncopation in the pizzicato strings appearing throughout.

The short works for violin and orchestra works ... the Cantique and Devotion ... were, in a way, a reflection of the symphonies; the Cantique tuneful and beautiful, easily approachable ... the Devotion more severe, like a serious musing on a serious subject.

Well .... that's it for now. The adventure continues soon.

End of PART 2.
for the rest ... click here.

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