Sibelius: Sym No.1 & No.5
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1. Sibelius: Symphony No. 1 in E minor: I. Andante, ma non troppo - Allegro energico 11:49
2. Sibelius: Symphony No. 1 in E minor: II. Andante (ma non troppo lento) 9:02
3. Sibelius: Symphony No. 1 in E minor: III. Scherzo (Allegro) 5:09
4. Sibelius: Symphony No. 1 in E minor: IV. Finale (Quasi una Fantasia - Andante - Allegro molto) 12:41
5. Sibelius: Symphony No. 5 in E-flat major: I. Tempo molto moderato - Allegro moderato 12:57
6. Sibelius: Symphony No. 5 in E-flat major: II. Andante mosso, quasi allegretto 9:03
7. Sibelius: Symphony No. 5 in E-flat major: III. Allegro molto - pochettino largamente 9:12
In this, their fifth release for Telarc, Maestro Yoel Levi and the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra present two powerful symphonies by the Finnish composer, Jean Sibelius. Contrasting in color and mood, the two works on this disc provide the same panorama of sound and melody that made Sibelius’ stirring tone poem, Finlandia, so popular with listeners.
Although Sibelius is closely identified with Finnish nationalism, he was actually not a native speaker of the language, and received his musical training in Germany. But in spite of his Austro-German background in composition, it was apparent in Sibelius’ earliest works that he was developing his own style, melodically rich and often steeped in the folklore of his country.
Sibelius composed his First Symphony in 1898-99, and it is not surprising that it is the most traditional of his seven symphonies and more readily understood within the context of Beethoven, Schumann, Brahms and Tchaikovsky. It is also darker in color than the Fifth, with a plaintive solo clarinet opening the symphony and echoed by the strings in the finale.
Symphony No. 5 has become the most popular of Sibelius’ later works and it stands in direct contrast to the darker mood of the First. It was premiered in December of 1915, but Sibelius was not completely satisfied, and withdrew it for revision. He did not produce his “definitive” version until 1918. The most noticeable revision is the reduction of the work from the original four movements to three. The finale is particularly brilliant in orchestration, with the entire orchestra thundering six chords to provide a thrilling climax.