Solitary Jean Sibelius and Colin Davis

May 1, 2009

I hope you had a chance to hear Symphony at 7 recently.  We aired a new recording of Sibelius' first symphony with Colin Davis and the London Symphony. Davis clearly has a strong affinity for this great Finnish composer. This is his third go round of recording the seven symphonies:  back in the 70s with the Boston Symphony for Philips,  in the 90s with the London Symphony for EMI,  and now with the LSO again for live concert recordings on the Orchestra's own label. In the new recording, the opening of the first symphony is as mysterious as ever with its long solo clarinet passages.  Sibelius may have been inspired by Tchaikovsky's "Pathetique" in his own first symphony, but here the music seems to express not so much the human anguish of the heart as it expresses the lonely,  solitary northern landscape of which the observer (and listener) is a part.  At times it's even as if there is no human observer at all and there is just the world of nature.  This impression gets even stronger in other Sibelius symphonies to come, and  I look forward to presenting more of them in the future.