Magazine article Musical Opinion

BBC Symphony Orchestra/Saraste: The Barbican

Magazine article Musical Opinion

BBC Symphony Orchestra/Saraste: The Barbican

Article excerpt

The BBC Symphony's Sibelius cycle (under various conductors) had Nos 6 & 7 on December 1 6 at the Barbican under Jukka-Pekka Saraste: the Orchestra played well for him, the Sixth came out rather more forcefully than it did under Beecham's delicate handling; the Seventh like the masterly monolith that it is. I haven't heard either symphony for some years and was refreshed and stimulated by the noble trombone theme that rises from the depths like the Krakenwake, by the sudden flurries of string semiquavers, the plangent wind statements, the use of augmented fourths, added sixths, the sudden silences, the brass chords that bulge from piano to forte, the almost sentimental phrases that are turned austere as Easter Island stones, and the archaic use of modes.

The first half of the programme turned from Finland to the other country with which it shares linguistic roots, Hungary. The programme began with the Dance Suite that Bartók (forty-two years old at the time) composed on the occasion of the 50th anniversary in 1923 of the unification of Buda and Pest, the pattern begins with woodwind and brass in rhythmic, masculine style, notes mostly around and below middle C; with contrasting string sections in longer notes, high and lyrical. …

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