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Sibelius

Sibelius
December 05, 2011, 02:24:11 AM
What are your thoughts on this famous Finnish composer? Admittedly, I haven't heard all of his output and I'm a bit divided on what I have heard. Some of his symphonies strike me as pretentious, they're simple but made to sound complex and are commonly rounded off with this big pompous anthemic finale. The violin concerto escapes this and seems to flow more naturally, partly due to it's chaotic unrefined construction. Finlandia is just overrated.

Re: Sibelius
December 05, 2011, 02:35:58 AM
You pretty much mirrored my thoughts on this composer.  Technically competent and understands the aesthetic of 19th century music but has very little to say beyond this and as such is vastly overrated, much like Mahler.  As a composer I appreciate his scores for technical instruction but as an artist this stuff really annoys me, especially because most people cannot see through its superficial charms.  As you said the violin concerto is probably his best work, still not really worth the time though.

Re: Sibelius
December 05, 2011, 04:51:59 AM
Cursory analysis can be so provocative; can I try?

A bitter genius whose compositional long-windedness was necessary and natural, unlike Bruckner's which was an affectation derived from his man-crush on Wagner. There's more meat on the bones of his symphonies than he's often recognized for, especially given that moderns almost exclusively listen to his compromising, and often terrible, more commercialized nationalist output; as with any composer you should be listening to the pieces that their public hated, to really get a feel for their work.

Also, let's not forget that Mahler being "overrated" is a very recent phenomenon, spurred almost entirely by the athleticism increasingly associated with American orchestral playing in the last 20 years (Bernstein's boner for this composer also contributed to his subsequent enthronement in "educated" circles). As such I don't really think it's fair to say that Mahler is generally overrated; most people don't, and didn't like his music, and the only reason it gets so much air time is because the players and conductors control what the public hears in classical music to a large extent, and Mahler wrote music catering exactly to the interests of that demographic. It's easy to mistake this for real "enjoyment" in the non-musician public.

This shit's tight:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=60PGX0RzUvU

Check out symphony 2 also. But what do I know, right?

Re: Sibelius
December 05, 2011, 10:04:37 PM
I agree with the criticism of Sibelius, but he varies a lot between pieces. The criticism of Bruckner is overstated.

Re: Sibelius
December 07, 2011, 01:16:56 PM
A bitter genius whose compositional long-windedness was necessary and natural, unlike Bruckner's which was an affectation derived from his man-crush on Wagner. There's more meat on the bones of his symphonies than he's often recognized for, especially given that moderns almost exclusively listen to his compromising, and often terrible, more commercialized nationalist output; as with any composer you should be listening to the pieces that their public hated, to really get a feel for their work.

I like the way Sibelius phrases some of the melodic ideas but the way they build together and peak is actually quite predictable somehow, and also those peaks are considerably lower than they set out to be. I'm finding his 7th Symphony quite good at the moment. Regarding length, I find Bruckner's music is very cyclical and even a bit OCD but the tension-release certainly originates in a much more natural mechanism than Sibelius, probably there's every bit as much of the Schubert-Beethoven tradition in his work as there is Wagner.

Re: Sibelius
January 04, 2012, 04:53:41 PM
Sibelius works for me in shorter compositions, but none of the symphonies, which are too much like the Russian ideal: candied melodies drawn out and repeated to no clear evolutionary purpose. However, his shorter works are like snapshots of a time, expanded to show context. Are there any recommended conductors (Salonen)?