Op. 15- The Wood Nymph. It is a symphonic poem ballad which is based on a poem by Viktor Rydberg.It was completed in 1895. The premiere was given in Helsinki on 17th April 1895 - Helsinki Orchestral Society conducted by Jean Sibelius. It was performed then with a narrator. An early sketch of Skogsrået was included in the plan for an opera in the summer of 1894. Viktor Rydberg's text relates the adventures of the hero Björn in the forest where evil dwarfs are carrying out their malicious schemes and a curvaceous wood nymph lures Björn into making love to her. The spell he is under cannot be broken. Björn can no longer love his wife. Nor does he feel like working. He dies alone and full of yearning. The Wood Nymph remained in Sibelius's concert programmes for years. It sank into oblivion until the late 1990s when the work was again thrust into the international spotlight after the Lahti Symphony Orchestra had played and recorded it. One of the finest moments in the work is the modal sound field which starts after the majestic opening and lasts for few minutes. The opening is impressive with the C major theme symbolising Björn. The second exposition is the heroic theme. In the third episode, Björn meets the Wood Nymph. The long instrumental line from the cellos creates an extremely erotic setting. The atmosphere changes to melancholia in the final episode which brings out the hopeless yearning of Bjorn. The tone colours used by Sibelius are magnificent.
Lahti Symphony Osmo Vanska