Sibelius at the BBC Proms 2015


Programmes for the BBC Proms 2015 have been announced.

Works by Sibelius at this year’s Proms are Belshazzar’s Feast (BBCSO/Oramo, at the First Night), all seven symphonies (Nos 1 & 2: BBC Scottish SO/Dausgaard; Nos 3 & 4: BBC Scottish SO/Volkov; Nos 5, 6 & 7: BBCSO/Vänskä), the Violin Concerto (Julian Rachlin/BBC Scottish SO/Volkov), Tapiola (BBCSO/Oramo), En saga and Kullervo (Rusanen-Kartano, Torikka, Polytech Choir, BBCSO/Oramo).

Full information about the concerts and tickets bookings: click here.

5 thoughts on “Sibelius at the BBC Proms 2015

  1. As expected, Sibelius is well represented in the 2015 Proms season including Kullervo. Its a pity that the Minnesota Orchestra will not now appear as originally planned. But we do have Osmo Vanska directing the last three symphonies with the BBC Symphony orchestra. Recently we had Sir Simon Rattle’s vision of these three great masterpieces. I can’t wait to hear another of the great Sibelians of our time : Osmo Vanska–bring it on!

  2. I heard Sibelius’s Suite ‘Belshazzar’s Feast’ on the BBC2 relay of the first night. Superb performance from the BBC Symphony Orchestra under Sakari Oramo. The principle flute player was outstanding. This marvellous music shows that the Finnish Master was not completely anchored in the frozen North! Nielsen’s Overture to ‘Maskarade’ opened the concert in fine style.

  3. mi scuso di non poter scrivere in inglese. Vorrei sapere il nome della composizione corale a cappella senza orchestra scritta da Sibelius ed eseguita qualche minuto della esecuzione delle altre opere. Vi sarei molto grato, Claudio Marino, Messina

    1. For those of us unable to attend the forthcoming Sibelius Festival in Lahti, Finland, the cycle of the complete Sibelius Symphonies from the Proms over three consecutive evenings at the Royal Albert Hall was indeed a highlight of Sibelius 150. The first concert on 15th August featured Symphonies 1 and 2 with The BBC Scottish SO under Thomas Dausgaard. The concert fittingly opened with a powerful performance of ‘Finlandia’. The account of the First Symphony was for me the highlight of the evening. Following that lonely clarinet theme, the orchestra entered with urgency and drama setting the seal on a tremendous performance, right up to those final pizzicato chords at the close. The Second Symphony was enjoyable, if not quite reaching the heights of No.1.
      The following evening featured once again the superb BBC Scottish SO this time under Ilan Volkov. This orchestra has a fine Sibelius tradition going right back to Ian Whyte. Osmo Vanska also conducted the orchestra for some years. The Third Symphony under Volkov was splendidly idiomatic. The second movement was slow and measured in the tradition of Kajanus, and to my mind the finest performance of the evening. Julian Rachlin brought fireworks to the D minor Violin Concerto, but he was also intensely poetic. I am still pondering Michael Finnissy’s tribute to Sibelius ‘Janne’. In the composers words ‘I thought it might be fun to do an imaginary portrait of the child Sibelius, violin in hand, wondering what he was going to be when he grew up’. The fifteen minute piece was easy enough on the ear but not, I thought especially Sibelian. The Sibelius Fourth Symphony still confronts us with our demons and it was pleasing that this towering but enigmatic masterpiece closed the concert–not with pessimism but of a stoic acceptance of fate.
      Osmo Vanska is undoubtedly the leading Sibelius conductor alive today and this was in evidence in the final three Symphonies on the Monday evening 17th August. The first movement of No.5 forms a huge ark. From an almost Bruckner-like beginning the work transforms itself into a pace recalling the Beethoven scherzo. The flow was seamless. After a largely relaxed and sunny second movement the finale was stupendous. Following the interval we had the serene Sixth Symphony. A fine account, but I still feel myself that the opening of the fourth movement could be more measured. The Seventh Symphony was for me the finest performance that I can remember. So many wonderful details emerged in this noble score. One such moment occurred during those fast string passages leading up the trombones second appearance. Absolutely incredible phrasing. This glorious performance crowned a memorable evening.

      1. The BBC Symphony Orchestra and their chief conductor Sakari Oramo will be guests at the Lahti Sibelius Festival and on last Saturday evenings showing they should make quite an impression. In this the final Sibelius at this years Proms the concert opened with a fine account of ‘En saga’. Robert Kajanus had approached Sibelius following the first performance of ‘Kullervo’ asking for an orchestral work that he hoped would become a popular repertory piece and the result was ‘En saga’. Kajanus must have been staggered when he saw the score. The composer described the piece as ‘the expression of a state of mind’ and we heard a wonderful performance. Following the interval came the mighty ‘Kullervo’ with the orchestra being joined by soloists Johanna Rusanen-Kartano, Waltteri Torikka and the combined BBC Symphony Chorus [men’s voices] and the Polytech Choir from Finland. Kullervo was first heard at the Proms on 29th August, 1979 conducted by Gennadi Rozhdestvensky. Osmo Vanska and the BBC Scottish SO gave the work in 1997 and on 29th August, 2002 Kullervo was heard again, this time under distinguished composer Thomas Ades. So last Saturday evenings performance under Oramo was the fourth outing for ‘Kullervo’. ‘Impressive’ does not begin to do justice to Oramo’s reading. All five movements were idiomatic and at the service of the composer. The fourth movement ‘Kullervo goes to war’ was especially bouncy and this, the most epic of Sibelius’s scores proved to be a masterpiece. Wonderful evening.

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