Music we've been missing (Part 10): Sibelius
Maybe I've just missed it somehow, but it seems to me that we haven't been hearing enough Sibelius.
Oh sure, the Violin Concerto comes around, as well it should; what wonderfully earthy, vital music that is. The first two, stirring symphonies are not too long out of the picture; they will surely never lose their place in the active repertoire. And, if we're lucky, we do get No. 5 and No. 7 once in a while.
But, quick -- think of the last time you went to a concert around here and found, say, Symphony No. 4 on the program. Or "Cassazione." I think it's odd that even "Finlandia," probably the best known of all Sibelius works, seems to be largely confined to radio station airplay these days -- although I hasten to add that the BSO has programmed it this season.
I'd be up for a Sibelius festival, with
all of the symphonies and a bunch of the tone poems, as well as some of those fabulous orchestral songs (I've said before that the great orchestral song repertoire, spanning so many great composers, has been grossly underserved locally). For a taste of the Sibelius we've been missing, here's the finale of the darkly beautiful Symphony No. 4 conducted by Esa-Pekka Salonen; and a great example of Sibelius' vocal music, "Sav, Sav, Susa," sung by the supreme Jussi Bjorling :