Suomi… How We Love You! :: Concert Preview No. 3

Before each concert, we share “Manny’s Musings,” thoughts from our Music Director and Conductor, Manny Laureano. This is the second edition of the “Musings” for the “Suomi… How We Love You!” concert that will be performed on Sunday, October 8, 2017.

Jean Sibelius, composer

While the Symphony No. 1 in E minor, Opus 39 is Sibelius’ first attempt at the form made famous by luminaries such as Beethoven, he showed that waiting for the relative maturity of 34 years would bring him an enviable skill for atmosphere, melody, rhythmic drive, and story-telling orchestrations.

The symphony, while not programmatic in the style of his Bavarian contemporary Richard Strauss, has images that are undeniable. “A cold wind blows in from the sea” gives us a chill and smell of ocean spray through careful use of rapid bows across strings, lonely rising and falling woodwinds, and well-placed pizzicati.

As Minnesotans that stay for our winters, we can relate to his idea for the second movement which operates under the assumption that “the pine of the North is dreaming of the palm of the South.” The textures are as soft as young fur to provide contrast for the jagged interjections from the brass. “The Winter’s Tale” takes us from the longing melancholy of the slow movement to a lively scherzo that has a primal dancing rhythm led by the timpani. The woodwinds gambol about, nymph-like in their renderings.

The last movement is a programmatic mystery, however. Sibelius abandoned, or so it seems, a literary reference that would supply him with what he needed to compose. So, what, then? It is unclear, but he left behind cryptic references to the French composer Hector Berlioz in the margins of his score. This finale is dramatic in the operatic and poetic style. It is in this movement that Sibelius truly shares the voice he is to have in so many subsequent works. The orchestra soars melodically and in such a familiar way when we consider so many of the later expansive themes we know from Sibelius’ output.

Join Music Director & Conductor Manny Laureano, for the concert, “Suomi… How We Love You! featuring the Suomi Finland 100 Chorus, Eeva Savolainen, director, and the Bloomington Symphony Orchestra. The concert takes place on Sunday, October 8, 2017, at 3 p.m., at the Gideon S. Ives Auditorium at the Masonic Heritage Center (11411 Masonic Home Drive, Bloomington)

To learn more about the concert, click here. You can order tickets online through the Masonic Heritage Center Box Office, or by calling 800.514.ETIX.

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