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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
The Sibelius concert... greatness.

Sibelius wrote not much concerts. In fact only his violin concert. He was himself a great violinst and knew his instrument.

The concert starts with a "mystique" entrance. The violin is searching, but searching for what? Northern melancholic and such fantastique instrumentation: It is the way of the relation of strings and woodwinds and brass.

The violin goes on searching in the second moving untill in the third movement the orchestra with it monoton rhythm at the beginning introduce a new component.

The ending is open in my eyes. Did the violin found itself?
Depends on the player ...

I listened lately to the recordings with Heifetz and Oistrakh. Oistrakh and Sibelius: A perfect couple.
 

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Not to berate Oistrach, but I find the older recordings of this piece rather... too personal. As if the great players were trying to express themselves through their sound rather than express the music. A subtle difference, but an important one.

For an absolutely incredible recent recording, listen to violinist Pekka Kuusisto with conductor Leif Segerstam and the Helskinki Philharmonic... I believe the recording is made in about 1996 or so. Kuusisto won the Sibelius violin competiton while in his 20's, including the prize for the best performance of Sibelius' violin concerto, which lead to this recording opportunity.

Back to the comparisons, when one listens to this recording, one feels that he is hearing Sibelius' music first and foremost, and not some individualistic "interpretation" that ends up sounding very, very generic. We must not forget that Sibelius' writing is very specific and a category unto itself, deserving as much study of form as practising of technique.

For a detailed discussion of the concerto and its interpreters, please click the link in my signature and check out the "Violin Concerto" section!
 

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Sibelius wrote not much concerts. In fact only his violin concert. He was himself a great violinst and knew his instrument.
That is true. But he wrote it twice. :D

What we here all the time is a revised version, from a longer original one.

BIS released a cd a few years ago with both versions, and that is the only recording of the original version of the concerto. After it was completed I suppose the score was taken back to the safe box, and belongs to the Sibelius state. :(

The violin there is played by Kavakos. It is an interesting work indeed; however, the violin in that recording is a bit to far away, and the sound is not very good. But those are just technical flaws.

My favorite recordings of the work are those by Ginette Neveu and a live off-the air one coupling Repin and Gergiev (recorded in 2006).
 

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Sorry to return to this topic and try to hammer my point home some more, but I feel I really need to...

In preparation for an upcoming performance of this piece with the West Bohemian Symphony Orchestra on April 27th 2007, I have been studying as many recordings as I can. In general, I do not listen to recordings to "learn the music", but I do listen to recordings of concertos to see what various soloists do, what the "traditions" (i.e. bad habits) are, or what hidden possibilities and special approaches soloists can take to the music.

So far I have gone through 8 recordings of this piece in a quite detailed way, lots of stopping and listening to passages many times.

I hate to bash your favourite, Daniel, but the Oistrach / Ormandy / Philadelphia version that I have is absolutely terrible. It is a product of a very special time and a very specific orchestra and artist, who took it as their right and duty to personalize and express instead of simply letting the composer speak. In this recording there are far too many dynamic exaggerations, which completely throw off the balance and flow that other performances showcase. I also feel that Oistrach does not have a tempo-concept, in the 1st movement especially. Rubato and pulselessness are 2 different things.

Interestingly, not all "old" recordings are like this. At the Sibelius Forum (check my signature) I have posted a very old video of Ferras and Mehta playing this... incredible technique, incredible tempos, incredible music. Sign in and check the "Media" section, you will not see the "Media" category until you are registered. Sorry for this shameless plug, Frederik.

Aside from the Kuusisto recording that I mention above, take a look at a recording by Miriam Fried with Helsinki, Okko Kamu conducting. This recording did not receive much critical acclaim because of the limitations of Fried's sound, but I find that Kamu's accompanying is very close to the score, maybe even closer than Segerstam.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Hello Kurikohtaus!

The recording I have with Oistrakh is not the one with Ormandy. I have it with Rozhdestvensky and Moscow Philarmonic Orchestra (1966). I think I borrowed once a recording with also this couple but realised 1965, it was Melodiya... This was even stronger in the expression.

One should mention the impressive recording by Ginette Neveu!

Greetings,
Daniel
 

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Great music -e.g. the violin concerto by Sibelius was in some sense (like all great music) the product of the earth. It's truly surprising how the finest recordings of particular works have been made by orchestras and soloists from the country of origin of the music itself - too many, I think. to dismiss as mere coincidence.

I would listen to Sibelius played by a Finnish soloist/orchestra first, and try to learn from them. But I agree there is nothing scientific or proveable about the greatness of local/indigenous interpretation.

That's one tremendous concerto, for sure. I've heard many versions of it. At the moment my favourite is with Tasmin Little as soloist. But I'd love to hear any Finnish recording.

Regards
 

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I own the Oistrakh/Ormandy recording, as well as the Heifitz. I have also heard but do not own the Perlman recording, and I heard Midori play it live. For me, Oistrakh remains unmatched.

I am, however, eager to hear the Cho/Esa Pekka Salonen recording - Salonen is a brilliant conductor and I'm game for another interpretation.

I do not think this work is 'pure music' - the themes are treated dramatically, appearing and reappearing almost as actors on a stage. Almost all concertos sound this way to me - it is a psychology of the genre. The piece is my 'idea of north'.
 

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This is my favorite composition. Hearing it at a concert (first time I heard it, so it was a complete surprise) last year got me to take up violin lessons (with no musical background!) - been going strong for a few months now!

My favorite interpretation is Ida Haendel, with Paavo Berglund conducting the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra.

This is what Sibelius himself had to say about Haendel after hearing her play his concerto on the radio: she "played it masterfully in every respect. I congratulate myself that my concerto has found an interpreter of your rare standard."
 

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That is true. But he wrote it twice. :D

What we here all the time is a revised version, from a longer original one.

BIS released a cd a few years ago with both versions, and that is the only recording of the original version of the concerto. After it was completed I suppose the score was taken back to the safe box, and belongs to the Sibelius state. :(

The violin there is played by Kavakos. It is an interesting work indeed; however, the violin in that recording is a bit to far away, and the sound is not very good. But those are just technical flaws.

My favorite recordings of the work are those by Ginette Neveu and a live off-the air one coupling Repin and Gergiev (recorded in 2006).
I have the BIS recording with both versions and love it. I seem to prefer the original.
 

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I have the BIS recording with both versions and love it. I seem to prefer the original.
I prefer the original too. It's certainly less concise than the revised version, but it is bolder, more passionate.

I like both versions, of course, but when I really want to hear this piece, I go to the original.
 

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More recent thread on the same subject: http://www.talkclassical.com/15229-sibelius-violin-concerto-oistrakh.html

My musings on the SIbelius concerto recordings are included there.

To Llyranor's point about Ida Haendel: I believe her rendition of the concerto was lauded by Sibelius himself:
In 1949, Sibelius heard her interpretation, commenting afterwards that she "played it masterfully in every respect. I congratulate myself that my concerto has found an interpreter of your rare standard. [Telegraph (UK), 28 Jul 2009]
 

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Two years later...here's an update to this thread, if anyone is still watching and interested.

Very happy to note that the Berlin Phil under Simon Rattle have arranged a residency at the Barbican in 2015 to mark the 150th birth anniversary of Sibelius. They will be performing the full cycle of his symphonies and the VC on 10, 11, 12 February 2015.

http://www.artsjournal.com/slippedd...mark-60th-birthday-with-london-residency.html
 

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I love this VC! Have been fortunate to be at performances of the Sibelius VC, both by Leonidas Kavakos : last year at Salle Pleyel accompanied by Orchestre de Paris under Paavo Jarvi (who did such a wonderful job of conducting the orchestra in perfect balance with the soloist) and this week at the Concertgebouw accompanied by the Vienna Phil under Chailly.

My ears seem to prefer the sound of the Orchestre de Paris/Jaarvi than that of the more highly reputed Vienna Phil/Chailly even though I think Kavakos performed what sounded like a flawless rendition of the VC this week with the Vienna Phil.

My technical knowledge of orchestral work is non-existent, but it seems to me that it is much more difficult to coordinate the orchestra and the soloist in this type of VC than, say, a more symphonic-like work such as the Brahms VC. With the Brahms, there are obvious give-and-take points to guide the soloist and the orchestra and the amateur listener like myself. The Sibelius VC, on the other hand, seems to be simply perfect for a soloist who, if not masterly, could easily run away with the piece and leave the orchestra faltering behind.

Interesting blog discussion follows
http://www.artsjournal.com/slippeddisc/2013/04/who-owns-the-sibelius-concerto.html


Photo below of Kavakos acknowledging enthusiastic ovation at the Concergebouw last Monday, 13 Jan 2015 after performing the Sibelius VC accompanied by Vienna Phil/Chailly.

View attachment 32599
 
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