Sibelius - Symphonies 5 & 7, En Saga | Halle CDHLL7543

Sibelius - Symphonies 5 & 7, En Saga


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Label: Halle

Cat No: CDHLL7543

Format: CD

Number of Discs: 1

Genre: Orchestral

Release Date: 8th April 2016



Mark Elder and the Hallť return to Sibelius with a stunning album of orchestral masterworks in exhilarating live performances. Following their recent chart-topping release of Vaughan Williams (Sea Symphony, CDHLL7542) Elder and his acclaimed forces present a volume featuring major works from one of the great symphonists and orchestrators.

Sibeliusís Fifth Symphony is one of the orchestral masterpieces, fully displaying the composerís skill, with evocative and dramatic writing which fully utilizes the orchestral palette.

The Seventh Symphony was radical in its seamless one-movement structure. Written in the early 1920s, when Sibelius was tormented with uncertainty and depression, the work was his last in the form and is considered by many as being his finest symphonic achievement.

Inspired by Finnish folk legends, against a history of Russian dominance, En saga is Sibeliusís first important score to reveal a distinctively Finnish character and was the work with which the national music of Finland became an artistic entity.


The Fifth Symphony is usually seen as one of the more optimistic and outward-looking of Sibeliusís later works, certainly compared with the angst-ridden Fourth before it. But there is something rather cool, not to say downright chilly, about Elderís approach to one of the 20th centuryís greatest symphonic achievements, as though the atmosphere of the genuinely austere and implacable Seventh had permeated this work, too. Ö The Seventh fits in rather better with Elderís rather clipped, detached approach, with which he seems to be anticipating the world of the final tone poem, Tapiola, that came immediately after the symphony. As on the previous instalments of Elderís cycle, a tone poem is included alongside the symphonies on the disc, though unfortunately itís not Tapiola but the very first that Sibelius composed, En Saga. Its faux-folksy melodies and insistent rhetoric come as a bit of a shock after the formal compression and thematic economy of the Seventh, but this underlines how far Sibeliusís music travelled in 30 years, and Elderís careful performance, the hushed final pages perfectly realised, is quite special in its own right.  Andrew Clements
The Guardian 8 April 2016

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