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Pierre's Tuesday Blog

Jean Sibelius, Andrew Davis, Toronto Symphony* ‎– Sibelius: Symphony No. 2

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After a pair of Nielsen symphonies, the Tuesday Blog looks at maybe Sibelius' most popular symphony, his Second.

The genesis of the Second Symphony can be traced to Sibelius' trip to Italy in early 1901; it was there that he began contemplating several ambitious projects, including a four-movement tone poem based on the Don Juan story and a setting of Dante's Divina Commedia. While none of these plans ever came to fruition, some of the ideas sketched during this trip did find their way into the second movement of this symphony.

Sibelius' return to Finland for the summer and autumn was not accompanied by any great burst of inspiration, and extensive revisions delayed the first performance of this symphony, first to January 1902 and then to March 1903. But from then on, the symphony enjoyed unparalleled success in Finland and eventually led to the major breakthrough in Germany that was so craved by Scandinavian composers of this era (one which Nielsen, for instance, never achieved).

The Second Symphony has retained an extraordinary popularity for its individualistic tonal language, dark wind coloring, muted string writing, simple folk-like themes, and distinctly "national" flavor that are all Sibelian to the core.

In the spirit of Vinyl's Revenge, I posted my own digitized rendition of a 35 year-old recording from my personal vinyl collection (surface noise and all) to YouTube. The performance, by the Toronto Symphony, has been unfortunately overlooked in Sony's many reissues.

Happy Listening!

Jean SIBELIUS (1865-1957)
Symphony No.2 in D Major, Op.43

Toronto Symphony
Andrew Davis, conducting

CBS Masterworks ‎– IM 37801
Format: Vinyl, LP, Album, Stereo
Country: USA & Canada
Released: 1983

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