Sibelius – the less well known works

Last meeting of the season focused on Sibelius

Just over a century ago, Finland declared its independence at the time of the Russian revolution in 1917. At the start of the second world war in 1940, they then had to fight a fierce war against Stalin’s Russia who invaded the country with overwhelming force. The Russian general assumed it would all be over in around 12 days but the Russian army, although vast, was poorly led – following Stalin’s murder of thousands of Red Army officers – poorly equipped and the Finns put up a fierce resistance. They were ultimately successful losing only a small piece of territory but, they maintained their independence.

There is something faintly familiar with that story in the current events in Ukraine. Russia invading a neighbouring country with overwhelming force with the hope of a quick victory, being resisted by a much smaller but better led army. So what has this to do with the Recorded Music Society you ask? Living through this period was Finland’s greatest composer, Jean (as he is known today) Sibelius. His music contributed to Finland’s sense of nationhood from the time of independence and subsequently the war against Russia. So in addition to writing brilliant music, he was important giving the Finns a sense of national identity and pride. These things are significant during a time when a country is under threat.

Many of Sibelius’s works are well known and receive a regular airing in concert halls around the world. But like many composers, there is the well known and there is the less familiar. At last nights meeting, we were delighted to welcome again, Simon Coombs, who presented a range of less well known works, combining them with the life of the composer through his nation’s sometimes troubled history.

Sibelius started by studying law but while doing so, joined the Helsinki Music Institute. He was a capable violinist but decided to concentrate on composition and to that end, studied in Berlin and Vienna where he met Bruckner. He returned to Helsinki to compose his first major piece Kullervo. Among the pieces selected by Simon was A Conferment Cantata, A Song for Lemminkäinen, Finlandia, and a number of examples of incidental music. Also an extract from Pelléas et Mélisande and incidental music the the Tempest.

Simon was helped in his presentation by discs produced by Bis Records who have produced recordings by all of Sibelius’s music. Simon ended with some fragments of the 8th Symphony: it is not clear if Sibelius ever finished the work and destroyed it. Members were delighted with the presentation and the curation of the pieces linking it to key events in the composer’s life.

Sibelius’s music was an element of Finland’s struggle to achieve statehood and independence from Russia. It is strange to note that Ukraine’s famous composers; Prokofiev and Szymanowski among others, have not played a similar role in Ukraine’s resistance. Tchaikovsky is of Ukrainian extraction – the family name was originally Chaiko before the move to Russia.

This was the last meeting of the current season and the programme for the autumn is in final stages of preparation.

Peter Curbishley

Next (and last!) meeting

Secret Sibelius is the title of the last meeting of the 2021/22 season

TONIGHT!

We are delighted to welcome back Simon Coombs who is going to speak on the

subject of Sibelius and he will be focusing on the lesser known works by this famous composer. Like many composers, people are often familiar with the great works but there is often a hinterland of lesser known works which are worth listening to.

This is the last meeting of the current season so we look forward to meeting you at 7:30 as usual. Work is well advanced with the 2022/23 season and we will be producing a leaflet as usual in the summer.

Next Meeting

Our next meeting is tonight, Monday 28th March when Robin will be presenting: “Women composers who won the Prix de Rome”.

I hope you will be able to attend.

Note that we have a range of CDs for sale at a £l each or less as well as a selection of books for sale including biographies of Mahler and Ben Britten as well as other books on musical topics. All at bargain prices!

Next meeting

Our next meeting will be on Monday 14th February 2022, when Angus Menzies will be presenting: ‘H is for Heinichen and Hesse, masters of the Dresden baroque’.

 As before, we feel it is appropriate to ask all attending to follow the Covid safety measures we have in place including well spaced seating, wearing a mask and as far as possible maintaining social distancing. 

 The following meeting on 28th February will be Peter Horwood presenting favourites from his own collection.

Looking ahead you may be interested in a Palm Sunday recital on Sunday 10th April, in St Mary & St Nicholas Church, Wilton at 4.00pm of string quartets, featuring the concert premiere of Variations on Love Divine by Ailsa Dixon (1932-2017)  www.ailsadixon.co.uk.   Ailsa Dixon was one of the many female composers side-lined in musical history, but her work has been the focus of new interest since she died in 2017, with posthumous premieres of a number of works found in her archive. 

We hope you will be able to come on Monday.

ET

New season starts

Second half programme kicks off on Monday, 31 January 2022

The second half of the programme starts in style on Monday with a presentation by John Challenger of Salisbury cathedral on the Father Willis organ, one of the finest organs in the country. He will explore the highs and lows, delights and difficulties of recording on the organ.

As before, we feel it is appropriate to ask all attending to follow the Covid safety measures we have in place including well spaced seating, wearing a mask and as far as possible maintaining social distancing.  

The next meeting after this will be on Monday 14th February, when Angus Menzies will be presenting: ‘H is for Heinichen and Hesse, masters of the Dresden baroque’

Reduced membership for the second half of the year available. £3 at the door for non-members

Next meeting

Our last meeting before Christmas – tonight!

The next meeting, the last before Christmas, will be on Monday 6 December at 7.30 when Ruth Barlow will present Classical Music in Animations and invite us to join her in an end of term scamper through some cartoons with great classical music, including considering whether Fantasia was Mickey Mouse’s finest hour and listening to Tom and Jerry playing Liszt.

As before, we ask all attending to follow the Covid safety measures we have in place including signing in and sanitising procedures on arrival, well spaced seating, wearing a mask, minimising moving around and maintaining social distancing.  From recent government announcements, it would seem that provided we follow our current practice this will fit within the latest Covid guidelines, so we plan to go ahead with the meeting on Monday, but if anyone feels uncomfortable and decides not to attend we shall understand.

After Monday we have a break until 31st January 2022 when we shall be delighted to welcome John Challenger to explore the highs and lows, the delights and difficulties of commercial recording on one of the greatest cathedral organs in the country: Salisbury’s own Father Willis Organ

We hope you will be able to come and feel comfortable on Monday 6th December

Next meeting

The next meeting will be on Monday 22nd November which will be our Members’ Evening.   There is still room for a few more pieces so if you have a piece on CD of around 10 minutes that you would like to bring and have played, please would you email Ed Tinline details quickly, so he can complete the play list.

As before we shall have an interval when we will offer tea or coffee, but you’re welcome to bring your own drink.  

We ask all attending to follow the Covid safety measures we have in place including signing in and sanitising procedures on arrival, well spaced seating, wearing a mask, minimising moving around and maintaining social distancing.  After this, our final meeting before Christmas will be on 6th December 2021 when: Ruth Barlow will present ‘Classical Music in Animations’ and invite us to join her in an end of term scamper  through some cartoons with great classical music, including considering whether Fantasia was Mickey Mouse’s finest hour and listening to Tom and Jerry playing Liszt.

We hope you will be able to come on Monday 22nd November at 7.30 and to feel comfortable with the arrangements we plan to have in place.

November meeting

Details of the meeting to be held on Monday 8 November 2021

The next meeting will be on Monday 8th November when Alan Forshaw will present Listening to Beethoven in a different light.

We shall have an interval when we will offer tea or coffee, but you’re welcome to bring your own drink.  As before, we ask all attending to follow the Covid safety measures we have in place including signing in and sanitising procedures on arrival, well spaced seating, wearing a mask, minimising moving around and maintaining social distancing. 

On 22nd November we shall have a Members’ Evening. If you have a piece on CD of around 10 minutes that you would like to bring and have played at the meeting, please would you let us have details, if possible this Monday so we can draw up a play list.

We look forward to seeing you there.

Meeting tonight

The next meeting is tonight, Monday 25th October, when Ed Tinline will be presenting: Harmony around the Baltic

He hopes you’ll be able to join him on a musical journey around some of the Baltic countries, enjoying pieces by local composers including Jean Sibelius,  Arvo Pärt, Hugo Alvén, and others.

We shall have an interval when we will be able to offer tea or coffee, but you’re welcome to bring your own drink.  As before, we ask all attending to follow the Covid safety measures we have in place including signing in and sanitising procedures on arrival, well spaced seating, wearing a mask, minimising moving around and maintaining social distancing. 

Copies of the full programme for the season will be available at the meeting.

However please would you note that while the dates of coming meetings are unchanged we have had to alter the running order in November. The amended programme up to Christmas is now:

  • On 8th November  Alan Forshaw will present ‘Listening to Beethoven in a different light’.
  • And then on 22nd November we shall have a Members’ Evening. If you have a piece of around 10 minutes that you would like bring and have played please let a committee member know.

Our final meeting before Christmas will be on 6th December 2021 when Ruth Barlow will present ‘Classical Music in Animations’ and invite us to join her in an end of term scamper  through some cartoons with great classical music, including considering whether Fantasia was Mickey Mouse’s finest hour and listening to Tom and Jerry playing Liszt.

We hope you will be able to come on Monday 25th  October at 7.30 and to feel comfortable with the arrangements we plan to have in place.

Meeting report – September

The second meeting took place on 13 September 2021 and it was good to be back in person. The sessions have a quite different style now as we are now working around the screen on the wall and linking the sound through our speakers. Initially, there were some technical issues connected with the laptop but once this was changed, we could continue.

It was a member’s choice evening and demonstrated a wide not to say eclectic choice of pieces. The programme was:

  • Rimsky-Korsakov arr. Lindberg: Concerto in Bb for trombone

(Christian Lindberg (Trombone), Tapiola Sinfonietta, Osmo Vänskä)

  • Mozart: Clarinet Concerto, 3rd movement.

(David Shifrin (Bassett Clarinet in A), Mostly Mozart Festival Orchestra, Gerard Schwarz)

  • Wagner: Siegfried Funeral Music

(Vienna Philharmonic, George Solti)

  • Mozart: “Ruhe sanft” from Zaide

(Mojca Erdmann, Salzburg Festival 2006)

  • Mozart: “Misericordias Domini”
  • Shostakovich: Symphony no.8, 3rd movement.

(Leningrad Philharmonic, Evgeny Mravinsky)

  • Hermann Suter: Le Laudi di San Francesco d’ Assisi

No. 2 (Sister Moon and the Stars)

No. 4 (Sister Water)

(Edith Mathis, Norma Procter, Eric Tappy and Fernando Corena, with the Basler Sangverein and Orchester-Gesellschaft, Hans Münch)

  • Vaughan Williams: Concerto in F minor for Bass Tuba

(JáTtik Clark (Tuba), Corvallis-OSU Symphony, Marlan Carlson)

  • “Playing a flaming tuba on Londonʼs South Bank” 
  • Jenny Pluck Pears, a Playford country dance

(The Broadside Band, Jeremy Barlow)

  • Heidrich: Variations on a theme (extracts)

(Zubin Mehta)

A range of pieces and genres with some rarities not usually heard.

We were delighted to welcome two new members to the Society.

Peter Curbishley