Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Sibelius Fourth

https://youtu.be/zl_q1QDkiiw Sibelius composed his dark Fourth Symphony in A Minor in 1910. He wrote eight symphonies - seven numbered and one big symphonic poem Kullervo. He composed these symphonies between 1899 and 1924 and stopped writing symphonies after that. The movements of his Fourth Symphony are at variance with the symphonic traditions of the times, particularly the way the second and fourth movements culminate and die out in a whimper. Sibelius developed his symphonic style through the formative powers of his themes. He used melodies with a broad span and concise motifs with thematic germ cells. The music ranges between brightness and ominous darkness. The brevity in his composition style is aphoristic. The themes bring out Sibelius' inner thinking processes. The first movement opens with a dark chord and the cello introducing a three-part song. You will come across a thematically independent introduction as well as a coda. The second movement is also a three-part song that has an extensive closing section that introduces new themes. The third movement is an expansive one and it opens with a couple of short phrases that alternate in various forms and they reappear unchanged, giving the whole movement a sense of unity. The finale is written in sonata form but it does not have the standard recapitulation as a result of the change of the thematic material that is found in the development section. Sibelius assembles the motifs of the themes quite prominently in this symphony and they compete with each other, both singularly and in combination. You will come across this in the exposition of the first movement and again in parts of the finale. The cello carries the theme in the first movement while the violin carries it in the final movement. The texture of writing is mostly polyphonic, giving the sound a unique type of transparency. Sibelius favours darker tone colours, making the themes sound significant. Sibelius conducted the premier of this symphony in Helsinki in April, 1911. This symphony represents a deep, sombre and austere side of Sibelius' symphonic personality.

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