Illustration: Jenny Svenberg Bunnel
Anu Komsi. Photo: Maarit Kytöharju
Members of the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra. Photo: Mats Lundqvist
Livestream: Grande Finale – Sibelius with Oramo II
Sakari Oramo leads the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra in Sibelius’ Symphonies No. 3 and 4 as well as Luonnotar.
Saturday 22 May 2021 15.00Ends approximately 17.00
Grand Finale: Sakari Oramo’s final concerts as chief conductor of the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra are an in-depth journey through Jean Sibelius’ creations, including all seven symphonies in chronological order. “In his case specifically, I believe the order matters,” says Sakari Oramo. “He worked on several symphonies simultaneously, and there are always elements in one symphony that can be detected in the symphony preceding it.”
After the first two national romantic symphonies, Symphony No. 3 bring something else entirely to the stage. It has been said that it is more classicist, in that the music seems to nod to older styles and tones. The third and final movement does, however, break free from simpler labelling, with its enigmatic blend of scherzo (jest) and hymn. The symphony was started in 1904, but the third movement was not finished until only a few days before the world premiere in 1907. Sibelius had now opened the door to something new.
In the years around 1910, a fourth symphony had occurred to him, but he also faced financial challenges and he was involved in other engagements. In spring 1911, after some delays, he was finished and he noted “Jacta alea est” in his diary – the die has been cast. This dramatic music is underscored by a recurring tritone – sometimes known as “the devil’s interval” – which infuses the music with internal anxiety and instability. The fourth and final movement is pure conflict between two notes on the tritone interval.
As usual, Sibelius worked on multiple pieces at once. Luonnotar – the creation myth in the first poem of the national epic, the Kalevala – recurred in different garb: it was intended as an orchestral poem at the time of Symphony No. 3; before then, in the form of Pohjola’s Daughter for orchestra (the title was originally Luonnotar); and even earlier, in an idea for an opera that never came to be. Luonnotar Op. 70 for soprano and orchestra was completed in 1913, after Symphony No. 4. Luonnotar (Nature’s Daughter) is a dizzying, evocative and breath-taking piece – with a rare, short composition time, during what seems to have been a flood of inspiration.
We will hear Finnish soprano Anu Komsi, whose precise and intense interpretation of Luonnotar has been universally acclaimed, and is something of a speciality.
The musicApproximate times
Jean Sibelius Symphony No. 330 min
Jean Sibelius Luonnotar for soprano and orchestra9 min
Jean Sibelius Symphony No. 438 min
- Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra
- Sakari Oramo conductor
- Anu Komsi soprano