Category Archives: Articles

Lahti Sibelius Festival 2017 Review

Photo: © Lahti SO/Juha Tanhua

The Eighteenth International Lahti Sibelius Festival coincided with the centenary year of Finland’s political independence. In a previous year forty percent of tickets were sold to non-Finnish patrons, so its claim of international status is well justified. As usual concert tickets and hotel accommodation had been arranged at a special price for Sibelius One members. Click here to read the full review by Geoff Hayes.

Save

Save

Save

A Visit from Sibelius

Korpo gård
Korpo gård

The two themes of the 2016 ‘Sibelius i Korpo’ festival, which took place on 22-24 July, were ‘a visit from Sibelius’ and ‘Sibelius and Busoni’.

Click here to read more about the festival in Andrew Barnett’s report.

korpo-artists-2016

 

 

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Worst composer ever? (new article)

The Polish-born but naturalized French composer, conductor, music theorist and teacher René Leibowitz (1913–72) was significant in promoting serialism and the New Music in France after World War II, and famously described Sibelius – on the occasion of the Finnish composer’s 90th birthday – as ‘le plus mauvais compositeur du monde’. In a new article Ronald Powell discusses his music in the context of other composers, notably those of the Second Viennese School. Click here to read the article.

New article: Christmas Songs

Christmas lights, Aleksanderinkatu, Helsinki (Photo: © JIP / Wikipedia Creative Commons)
Christmas lights, Aleksanderinkatu, Helsinki (Photo: © JIP / Wikipedia Creative Commons)

On 1 May 1913 – ‘Vappu’, the very day that Finland celebrates the coming of springtime – Sibelius composed two Christmas Songs! Thus today, 1 May 2016, we have added a new article about Sibelius’s Five Christmas Songs, Op. 1, to our library of texts about Sibelius’s music. Click here for the article.

For a limited period this article is available to all visitors to this website. After that (and to access other articles in the same series) please use your membership log-in. To become a member, click here.

Sibelius Inspiration

mth2470wwwNazig Azezian and Jussi Makkonen
Photo: Marko Haapalehto

Sibelius Inspiration is the name of a concert arranged by cellist Jussi Makkonen and pianist Nazig Azezian that combines Sibelius’s music and Finnish nature in a unique way by means of video and multimedia. The concert includes some of Sibelius’s best-known compositions and also exhibits Finnish costume design and an Ainola garden fragrance made especially for the concert. The successful world première of the multimedia concert was held at the Orpheum Theatre in New Orleans on 27 September 2015.

The cellist Jussi Makkonen is an expert on Sibelius’s music. He and the pianist Nazig Azezian have performed Sibelius in Finland for hundreds of thousands of listeners. In recent years, concert tours have taken them, besides Finland, to Norway, Germany, Belgium, Italy, the United States, Canada, Denmark, Greece, Romania, Moldova, Estonia, Indonesia, Vietnam, Hong Kong, Malaysia and the Philippines. Their all-Sibelius CD (original compositions and arrangements) with Annastiina Tahkola, mezzo-soprano, Esa Ruuttunen, baritone and Susanna Mieskonen-Makkonen, violin, was released in 2015.

The Sibelius Inspiration multimedia concert is an all-encompassing experience: by the means of music, video, sound and light, the audience is transferred into the world that inspired the Jean Sibelius. The concert takes the listener to the world of Sibelius’s home and the floral splendour of the Ainola garden, to the magical moss forest at dusk, and to the summit of the Koli mountain in the midst of a thunder storm. Sibelius’s compelling music, the narration and the videos filmed for the concert bring Finnish nature, as seen by Sibelius, palpably close to the listener.

The videos for the multimedia concert were filmed and directed by Aira Vehaskari. Mert Otsamo, a well-known Finnish fashion designer, designed the artists’ performance costumes for the concert. The Finnish parfumeur Max Perttula designed the Ainola garden fragrance for the concert. The fragrance is tied in with the concert: the scent of Ainola’s flowers spreads in the concert hall as the audience is transported into Ainola’s garden by  means of multimedia. The L’air d’Ainola fragrance was released as a women’s perfume on the 150th anniversary of Sibelius’s birth, 8 December 2015.

For a schedule of future concerts, click here.

In recent years the duo has performed more than 1,300 school concerts in Finland in recent years, and dozens of school concerts in different parts of the world as well. The concerts have already had over 300,000 listeners. Response to these concerts has been very enthusiastic in Finland, Norway and the United States. At these concerts the players not only perform Sibelius’s music to the children but also tell them stories about Sibelius’s life and the compositions heard at the concert. The new multimedia concert has been performed at schools as of autumn 2015, to great acclaim.

In addition, in January 2015 Makkonen and Azezian released a children’s picture book on Sibelius’s life in Finnish, English and Swedish called Melody Forest. The book has become one of the best-selling children’s books in Finland. The Melody Forest book has illustrations by Katri Kirkkopelto, and the book has been distributed to every Finnish elementary school with the support of the Finnish Ministry of Education and Culture. In August 2015 they became the first Finnish classical cello-piano ensemble to receive a gold record award (over 10,000 copies sold) – for the Sibelius-themed record included with the Melody Forest book.

Watch the introductory video:

 

 

 

Lyndon Jenkins – A Personal Tribute by John Davis

Lyndon-r14.12.2011

Lyndon Jenkins, John Davis and Peter Donohoe
at Symphony Hall, Birmingham, 14th December 2011

 

I have completely lost count of the number of times that I met up with the one and only Lyndon Jenkins. I first heard his unique style of oration when, many years ago, he addressed our South Devon Society, back in the days when we were called the ‘Torbay Gramophone Society’.

Lyndon was the most spontaneous orator that I’ve personally encountered, and his encyclopedic knowledge of countless aspects of the music scene was a treasure to behold. Lyndon introduced me, often in the green room of Symphony Hall, Birmingham, to countless professional musicians over the years, but one meeting was so special for me that it will stay with me for ever and a day. On one of my many group excursions to musical events (in the UK, across Europe and beyond) we were just concluding lunch in the Italian restaurant in Birmingham’s Symphony Hall complex (an occasion on which Lyndon introduced me to that day’s concert’s conductor, Sakari Oramo) when Lyndon took me up to a studio where a young Chinese lady was playing the piano. I was introduced to Di Xiao and then, with a signal from Lyndon, this lady played ‘especially for me’ (there were only the three of us present) the Impromptu Op.5 No.5 by Sibelius. None of my friends can believe me when I say that at the conclusion I was speechless! Di Xiao had never heard of this piece a fortnight earlier, when Lyndon introduced her to its glories, and she played it from memory! Fortunately this is available on a CD that Di Xiao has recorded*, made in Symphony Hall – my copy is autographed by Di Xiao herself.

The music world has lost a giant, and Lyndon Jenkins will never be forgotten.

John J. Davis

 

* Di Xiao Presents – Ecstasy Records 08DX01 – Music by Mozart, Ravel, Sibelius, Nielsen, Chen and Albéniz