A Finnish Invasion (9/16/09)

I interrupt my travels from the South Island to talk about my new found fascination with Jean Sibelius. I just returned home from hearing the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra play their first programme of four by Jean Sibelius. On the programme was Finlandia, Violin Concerto in D minor & Symphony No. 5 in E flat Major. Under the baton of Pietari Inkinen & featuring Vesa-Matti Leppänen on Violin (both native Finns), this was truly a tribute to Finnish music. The hall in which they performed was absolutely gorgeous, and reminded me of the Kimmell Center, home of the Philadelphia Symphony. Finlandia is one of my favorite pieces of music and it was amazing to finally hear it live. I have never heard either of the other pieces, but after tonight, I might be heading back to hear more this weekend.

The Violin Concerto is incredible and has been compared to those by Beethoven, Brahms and Tchaikovsky. The beginning has an awesome contrast between the soloist and the orchestra. Leppänen was amazing. The Fifth Symphony is shorter than the fifth symphonies I’m used to (namely Beethoven & Mahler), but has a fantastic ending. The conductor was inspiring as was the energy emitting from the players. I’ve found a new love for Sibelius and will definitely be getting the CD of his entire symphonic cycle from the NZSO when they release it in the coming months.

More from the South Island soon!



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