Author Topic: Sibelius, 50th anniversary of death (09-20-1957) and the Wood Nymph  (Read 11240 times)

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Offline Tapio Dimitriyevich Shostakovich

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Today it's Sibelius' 50th anniversary of death. Sibelius dies on September, 20th 1957 at home in Järvenpää. There's a lot Sibelius played in german concert halls these days,  TV- and especially Radio programs broadcast a lot. German TV (3Sat/br-alpha) sent a 1.5 h film "Sibelius - Musikgigant aus dem Norden".

Sibelius music had a hard time in germany after the war. Germany followed an easy and brainless logic: Everything which is related to "nordish" or maybe "nature", is to condemn, for obvious reasons. Today, the last years I think, Sibelius popularity was rising.

To me, he's amongst my most favorite composers. I love his works for orchestras. Tone poems and symphonies.

I have a specific question. Amongst his tone poems, The wood nymph, op. 15 (Skogsrået) is a very mighty orchestral work, a tone poem (there's also a melodram with voice). Nobody seems to know very much about this work, probably because there's big danger to fall in love with her :) ? The tone poem is about a hero who falls in love with the nymph.. And therefore will never be able to love a real woman again. A tragic story.



I've read a lot of books about Sibelius: None of them treat the nymph as the work deserves it. The work is at most only mentioned, but often forgotten. It's really strange. It's obvious that most authors even don't know the work. It's more than 20 minutes of fine orchestral music with a powerful, tragic conclusion - and they don't know it. In one book the author even wrote "wood ghost" in the table of works.
I also haven't read any cites of Sibelius about his nymph. I've never seen the wood nymph has been played in concert halls. Also, I only know of 2 recordings on CD. It's on BIS/Lahti SO/Vänskä, and Kuopio SO/Sato. BTW - the Vänskä one is more powerful and much better, the Sato too sterile, too chamber music like.

We don't know much about the wood nymph. Why is this? What information do we have on the nymph? I'm really interested. Please post all information you have.

Edit, oh I see there's a lot of information here.
« Last Edit: July 21, 2009, 09:12:03 PM by Wurstwasser »

Offline Sergeant Rock

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Re: Sibelius, 50th anniversary of death (09-20-1957) and the wood nymph
« Reply #1 on: September 20, 2007, 03:04:24 AM »
Today it's Sibelius' 50th anniversary of death. Sibelius dies on September, 20th 1957 at home in Järvenpää. There's a lot Sibelius played in german concert halls these days

Yep, Sibelius is finally showing up more often now especially in my area with Ari Rasilainen and Paavo Järvi heading the Rheinland-Pfalz and Frankfurt radio orchestras respectively.


Quote
I have a specific question. Amongst his tone poems, The wood nymph, op. 15 (Skogsrået) is a very mighty orchestral work, a tone poem (there's also a melodram with voice). Nobody seems to know very much about this work...I've read a lot of books about Sibelius: None of them treat the nymph as the work deserves it. The work is at most only mentioned, but often forgotten. It's really strange.

Very strange indeed. This is arguably Sibelius' first masterpiece and the music really is glorious, and yet it's been so rarely recorded. I've only recently discovered the work myself.


Quote
I only know of 2 recordings on CD. It's on BIS/Lahti SO/Vänskä, and Kuopio SO/Sato. BTW - the Vänskä one is more powerful and much better, the Sato too sterile, too chamber music like.

There's a spectacular performance of the melodrama version too, conducted by that hot Estonian babe Anu Tali. You can hear a snippet here (track 2):

http://www.jpc.de/jpcng/classic/detail/-/hnum/8596585?rk=classic&rsk=hitlist


Sarge
the phone rings and somebody says,
"hey, they made a movie about
Mahler, you ought to go see it.
he was as f*cked-up as you are."
                               --Charles Bukowski, "Mahler"

Mark

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Re: Sibelius, 50th anniversary of death (09-20-1957) and the wood nymph
« Reply #2 on: September 20, 2007, 03:24:17 AM »
I heard 'The Wood Nymph' once, some years ago, on an obscure satellite radio channel. It was about 3am, and I sat quite fascinated by it. I've not thought about it since, but now I'm keen to hear it again.

Thanks for bringing it up. :)

Mark G. Simon

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Re: Sibelius, 50th anniversary of death (09-20-1957) and the wood nymph
« Reply #3 on: September 20, 2007, 03:26:10 AM »
The piece was only recently published for the first time. The first recording only appeared in 1996, by Osmo Vänskä and the Lahti Symphony. I remember when that recording came out, it was talked about as if the score had been lost for decades. According to the liner notes, it was performed as recently as 1936 before entering oblivion.

Offline Tapio Dimitriyevich Shostakovich

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Re: Sibelius, 50th anniversary of death (09-20-1957) and the wood nymph
« Reply #4 on: September 20, 2007, 05:01:59 AM »
There's a spectacular performance of the melodrama version too, conducted by that hot Estonian babe Anu Tali. You can hear a snippet here (track 2):
Oooh. Terrible! I think the voice is really disturbing :)
I think of most interest is the longer, plain orchestral version.

Offline Lethevich

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Re: Sibelius, 50th anniversary of death (09-20-1957) and the wood nymph
« Reply #5 on: September 20, 2007, 06:56:12 AM »
I want to give BIS a huge hug for letting me hear some of his lesser-known orchestral pieces. Two big discoveries I made thanks to them was The Wood Nymph and Snöfrid (a very dramatic tone poem/cantata kind of affair).
Peanut butter, flour and sugar do not make cookies. They make FIRE.

Greta

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Re: Sibelius, 50th anniversary of death (09-20-1957) and the wood nymph
« Reply #6 on: September 21, 2007, 12:49:42 PM »
Yep, lots of Sibelius everywhere this fall it seems, with the cycle this fall in L.A., and in London as part of the London festival Sibelius and Beyond, and the symphonies showing up on many programs this fall. I think that's great. I'll get to hear the 2nd, 7th, and Finlandia here.
 
I don't even have The Wood Nymph either, but other lesser known Sibelius that is awesome, is his chamber music, especially for violin/cello and piano, so beautiful.


Tapkaara

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Re: Sibelius, 50th anniversary of death (09-20-1957) and the wood nymph
« Reply #7 on: July 21, 2009, 08:04:00 AM »
It is very interesting to me that The Wood Nymph is not better known. It is one of the composer's most sweeping works...and perhaps one of his most accessible.

Sibelius is often called "too cold" by many who don't like his music. I can understand that. His music is not always very easy, and it doesn't fall as easily on the the ears as, for example, Mahler.

The Wood Nymph though, an early sturm und drang tone poem, however, has all the trappings of a potentially popular work: nice tunes, dramatic...even cinematic grandeur and impactful orchestration. I think it would and could be a hit in the concert hall because it is so damn accessible.


Elgarian

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Re: Sibelius, 50th anniversary of death (09-20-1957) and the wood nymph
« Reply #8 on: July 21, 2009, 11:09:51 AM »
It is very interesting to me that The Wood Nymph is not better known. It is one of the composer's most sweeping works...and perhaps one of his most accessible.

I've never heard it; and I think I'd better put that right. I wonder if most composers have these odd neglected masterpieces lurking, that somehow have evaded recognition? Elgar has The Spirit of England; Parry has his 3rd & 4th symphonies; here's this one.

Tapkaara

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Re: Sibelius, 50th anniversary of death (09-20-1957) and the wood nymph
« Reply #9 on: July 21, 2009, 11:12:57 AM »
I've never heard it; and I think I'd better put that right. I wonder if most composers have these odd neglected masterpieces lurking, that somehow have evaded recognition? Elgar has The Spirit of England; Parry has his 3rd & 4th symphonies; here's this one.

There is only one easily obtainable reading of The Wood Nymph in circulation, and is on BIS with Vänskä/Lahti. There is at least one other recording, but it's fairly obscure and I've not been able to track it down anywhere.

I would LOVE for you to hear it, Elgarian. It's one of my favorite Sibelius works, actually...and like I mentiond, it is one of his most "cinematic" scores. It's really powerful stuff.

Elgarian

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Re: Sibelius, 50th anniversary of death (09-20-1957) and the wood nymph
« Reply #10 on: July 21, 2009, 11:48:00 AM »


Listening to some Amazon samples from the CD, now. The 30 second snippet sounds wonderful, but that's all I get of the Wood Nymph - then dozens of samples from the other tracks. However, I must say that 'Swanwhite' is very easy to like, if these bits are anything to go by.

Oh - now here we are again with another version of the Wood Nymph - oh, with vocals! Good grief - sounds like something from The Lord of The Rings!

Ah, this is better - at the BIS website there's a nice long 10 minute extract of Wood Nymph. Starting now. Oh my, this is fabulous! This could not be anyone but Sibelius, could it? Love that big bright brass fanfare-like sound at the beginning. Now those busy strings, zizzing around among the trees - oh, brilliant, wind increasing, whipping up the snow or leaves or something - superb rhythmic pulsing, my God, this man controls the very air, doesn't he? More, and more feverish - blimey this is superb!. Those strings, filling up all the little gaps, the tension building up and up, little promises being offered of some great musical theme, but being brushed away as soon as I think it might be here to stay. Cymbals! Jabbing brass! I mean, something is going to have to give, soon - I can't hold my breath this long! What's that? - sudden echoes of the ride of the valkyries? Is that deliberate? Long, sweeping brass chords now - like a view from a great mountain top. Breathtaking. Quieting down; brass still playing tune, but quietly. Here are more strings, sweeping in - the whole atmosphere lightening - oh, gorgeous, gorgeous, great looping swoops of sound, and ....

It's stopped! Oh no!!

OK I am hooked. This is tremendous!. I'll buy one. I have to hear the rest! Thank you SO much for introducing me to this!

Later I'm already spent up for this month, but there was a reasonably cheap secondhand one for sale 'like new' from a new Amazon seller, so I've ordered it.
« Last Edit: July 21, 2009, 11:58:36 AM by Elgarian »

DavidW

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Re: Sibelius, 50th anniversary of death (09-20-1957) and the wood nymph
« Reply #11 on: July 21, 2009, 11:49:49 AM »
Elgar you are very excited today! :D  I also didn't know of the Wood Nymph, and I consider myself a Sibelius fan. :-[  It will go on my wish list. :)

Renfield

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Re: Sibelius, 50th anniversary of death (09-20-1957) and the wood nymph
« Reply #12 on: July 21, 2009, 11:56:48 AM »
I have the BIS recording, at the very least; but I haven't given it the attention it deserves. Excellent idea!

Tapkaara

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Re: Sibelius, 50th anniversary of death (09-20-1957) and the wood nymph
« Reply #13 on: July 21, 2009, 11:57:12 AM »


Listening to some Amazon samples from the CD, now. The 30 second snippet sounds wonderful, but that's all I get of the Wood Nymph - then dozens of samples from the other tracks. However, I must say that 'Swanwhite' is very easy to like, if these bits are anything to go by.

Oh - now here we are again with another version of the Wood Nymph - oh, with vocals! Good grief - sounds like something from The Lord of The Rings!

Ah, this is better - at the BIS website there's a nice long 10 minute extract of Wood Nymph. Starting now. Oh my, this is fabulous! This could not be anyone but Sibelius, could it? Love that big bright brass fanfare-like sound at the beginning. Now those busy strings, zizzing around among the trees - oh, brilliant, wind increasing, whipping up the snow or leaves or something - superb rhythmic pulsing, my God, this man controls the very air, doesn't he? More, and more feverish - blimey this is superb!. Those strings, filling up all the little gaps, the tension building up and up, little promises being offered of some great musical theme, but being brushed away as soon as I think it might be here to stay. Cymbals! Jabbing brass! I mean, something is going to have to give, soon - I can't hold my breath this long! What's that? - sudden echoes of the ride of the valkyries? Is that deliberate? Long, sweeping brass chords now - like a view from a great mountain top. Breathtaking. Quieting down; brass still playing tune, but quietly. Here are more strings, sweeping in - the whole atmosphere lightening - oh, gorgeous, gorgeous, great looping swoops of sound, and ....

It's stopped! Oh no!!

OK I am hooked. This is tremendous!. I'll buy one. I have to hear the rest! Thank you SO much for introducing me to this!

Well, at 10 minutes, you've heard just under half the work! I wonder if you heard anything from the big ending. The ending of this work is, I think, one of the biggest and most dramatic in all of music. Elgarian, if you purchase this, you are in for a treat.

Swanwhite is great, too. The recording in question features the original, unaltered incidental music. Sibelius also produced a suite based on his score for this play, but he made revisions, changed harmonies, etc. I prefer the original score which is presented on this disc. The final movement feature a very pretty, hymnic tune with backing from an organ. This is a PRIME Sibelius disc in every way.

Elgarian

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Re: Sibelius, 50th anniversary of death (09-20-1957) and the wood nymph
« Reply #14 on: July 21, 2009, 12:14:28 PM »
Elgar you are very excited today!

Lightning striking twice! I don't think I'm being manic - I really think the music lit the blue touch paper - first the Immerseel Beethoven at lunchtime; now this. I think I'll go and lie down, quietly ....

Elgarian

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Re: Sibelius, 50th anniversary of death (09-20-1957) and the wood nymph
« Reply #15 on: July 21, 2009, 12:18:08 PM »
If anyone wants the nice long BIS extracts from this Wood Nymph CD, they're here:

http://www.bis.se/naxos.php?aID=BIS-CD-815

DavidW

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Re: Sibelius, 50th anniversary of death (09-20-1957) and the wood nymph
« Reply #16 on: July 21, 2009, 12:22:35 PM »
Lightning striking twice! I don't think I'm being manic - I really think the music lit the blue touch paper - first the Immerseel Beethoven at lunchtime; now this. I think I'll go and lie down, quietly ....

Listen to Handel's Water Music, as I did this morning.  The slow passages are just sublime, they will calm you down and wrap around you like a warm blanket. :)

Offline Wanderer

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Re: Sibelius, 50th anniversary of death (09-20-1957) and the wood nymph
« Reply #17 on: July 21, 2009, 12:42:21 PM »
I'm very glad the Wood Nymph seems to touch the hearts of so many people here; it is one of my dearest of Sibelius' creations. I was actually rather puzzled when I first heard it (I'd picked the Vänskä/Lahti SO recording on a dare); how could such a powerful, evocative, sweeping work be so little known? I'd love to hear it in concert someday.

Tapkaara

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Re: Sibelius, 50th anniversary of death (09-20-1957) and the wood nymph
« Reply #18 on: July 21, 2009, 01:15:28 PM »
I'm very glad the Wood Nymph seems to touch the hearts of so many people here; it is one of my dearest of Sibelius' creations. I was actually rather puzzled when I first heard it (I'd picked the Vänskä/Lahti SO recording on a dare); how could such a powerful, evocative, sweeping work be so little known? I'd love to hear it in concert someday.

This piece is special to me. Sibelius is one of the first composers I cam to admire, and this was one of the first works of this composer that I heard. I remember seeing it prominently displayed ina Tower Records (remember those) and I thought "Oh, Sibelius. I like him...let's give this CD a try!" At the time, I did not know it was a rare work.

So, in my development as a dyed-in0the-wool Sibeliophile, I actually knew of this work from very early in my career. It's always interesting to encounter folks who have loved Sibelius forever but do not know this piece.

It is a grand work. It could be a concert hall crowd pleasing blockbuster if only it were performed...

Offline Tapio Dimitriyevich Shostakovich

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Re: Sibelius, 50th anniversary of death (09-20-1957) and the wood nymph
« Reply #19 on: July 21, 2009, 09:05:35 PM »
Oh, the Wood Nymph is coming to life again!  :) :) :) People, you seem to have listened to the first minutes of the piece. The big deal about  the wood nymph is the über über über dramatic ending, starting at 16:45 in the BIS recording. Most impressive. Listen to it loud, unless you've got neighbours ;)

Updated the link in my top posting (didn't work): http://www.fimic.fi/fimic/fimic.nsf/0/2CC386D18882DDEEC22575370041A081?opendocument
« Last Edit: July 21, 2009, 09:12:50 PM by Wurstwasser »