Jean Sibelius – Violin Concerto & Tapiola – Tossy Spivakovsky, London Symphony Orchestra, Tauno Hannikainen (1959/2013) [HDTracks 24-192]

Jean Sibelius – Violin Concerto & Tapiola – Tossy Spivakovsky, London Symphony Orchestra, Tauno Hannikainen (1959/2013)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/192 kHz | Time – 46:21 minutes | 1,55 GB | Genre: Classical
Official Digital Download – Source: | Digital Booklet | @ Everest

From the included liner notes:

Of few twentieth century composers can it be said with any degree of certainty, “His music will last.” We are still too close to many of these men to judge objectively the quality of their work. But Jean Sibelius seems to be a creative artist whose compositions will survive. His Violin Concerto is one of the most difficult works of its kind ever written, but, it is also one of the most exciting. Performed here by one of the most exciting violinists of our day, assisted by a Finnish conductor who really knows the music of Sibelius, it has been reproduced with equally exciting fidelity for all to enjoy.

This, Sibelius’ only concerto, was written at Lojo, Finland: in 1903, and completely revised during the summer of 1905. Thus it falls between the composer’s Second and Third Symphonies, during a period when he was becoming increasingly aware of the importance of both form and nature in his music. Since the violin was Sibelius’ own instrument, the concerto was written with a full knowledge and understanding of what the soloist could and could not do. Still, there have been few virtuosi who have been able to do full justice to its technical and interpretive intricacies.

“The form is simple and concise throughout, besides being distinctly original,” writes Cecil Gray in his well-known biography of the composer. “The exposition in the first movement, for example, is tripartite instead of dual as usual, and the cadenza precedes the development section, which is at the same time a recapitulation; the slow second movement consists chiefly in the gradual unfolding, like a flower, of a long, sweet, cantabile melody first presented by the solo instrument and then by the orchestra; and the last movement is almost entirely made up of the alternation of two main themes. This variety, combined with simplicity and concision of formal structure, constitutes one of the chief attractions of the work.”

As in the case of so much of Sibelius’ music, there have been those who would attach some sort of a program to the Violin Concerto, linking it to everything from “cosmopolitan Swedish traditionalism” to an ancient rite of “bardic songs heard against a background of torches or pagan fires in some wild Northern night.” The composer himself gave the work no extra-musical connotations, though he once referred to the last movement as a “Danse Macabre.” It would make a rather strange dance of death, though, for it is in the stately rhythm of a polonaise.

The concerto was first played by the violinist Karl Halir at a concert in the Berlin Singakademie, with Richard Strauss conducting, on October 19, 1905. The score, published that same year, calls for an accompanying orchestra of two flutes, two oboes, two clarinets, two bassoons, four horns, two trumpets, three trombones, kettledrums and strings.

Tapiola-Tone Poem, Op.112

Tapiola, Sibelius’ last tone poem, was composed in the spring of 1926 at the request of Walter Damrosch, to whom it is dedicated. Damrosch and the New York Symphony Orchestra gave the work its initial performance at Mecca Temple on December 26, 1926. On the same program was another Damrosch-inspired composition – Gershwin’s Concerto in F – with the composer as piano soloist; this popular work had received its premiere just a year earlier.

Tapiola takes its name from Tapio, the forest god of Finnish mythology. Prefacing the score are these lines, written by Sibelius himself:

“Widespread they stand, the Northland’s dusky forests,
Ancient, mysterious, brooding savage dreams,
Within them dwells the forest’s mighty god
And wood sprites in the gloom weave magic secrets,”

In his Sibelius biography, Cecil Gray calls Tapiola “in many respects the culminating point of (Sibelius’) entire creative activity, and a consummate masterpiece which could only be the outcome of a long process of spiritual growth and development. It is music of the most extraordinary simplicity and directness, yet there is not one bar in it, from first to last, that could possibly have been written by any other composer. …”

Jean Sibelius (1865-1957)
Concerto for Violin and Orchestra in D Minor, Op. 47
1 I. Andante moderato 14:42
2 II. Adagio di molto 08:33
3 III. Allegro ma non troppo 06:50
4 Tapiola, Tone Poem, Op. 112 16:15

Tossy Spivakovsky, violin (#1-3)
London Symphony Orchestra
Tauno Hannikainen, conductor