Saturday, May 26, 2012

Jean Sibelius - Violin Concerto/The Swan Of Tuonela, Oistrakh, Philadelphia Orch., Ormandy (CBS - 61041)

When you talk about Classical music, the first "weirdo" person to picture in your mind would be Mozart, the true symbol of utmost talent and craziness. Yet, the truth is somewhat different. It is true that Mozart, not having truly lived his childhood period went half nuts. However, no other century than 20th century saw the massive amount of psychologically unstable composers during it's time.

It is hard to call Jean Sibelius a composer of the 20th century since his style of composition surely lies alongside of the 19th. However, his compositions were mainly after 1893 and under the influence of the modernists even though he tried to stick to the old game. His violin concerto came in 1903. These were all before he hid himself in the woods.

Sibelius ran away from everything in order to compose. He was not into social interactions from the beginning, but as he became successful in composing, he cut out his attachments and isolated himself more and more. He bought a house in the woods and went there to compose, sometimes for months on end. This extreme isolation also let to darker moods and weirder basis for his compositions. Especially in most of his later works, melancholy is a standard with the feeling of joy almost non-existent.

Sibelius's violin concerto in D minor is an early work and therefore a mixture of his stylistic rhythms, melancholy, partial joy and excessively well arranged orchestration (Here maybe lies his true talent). It is a beautiful work. More to it, David Oistrakh is playing with the support of Philadelphia Orchestra under the leadership of conductor Eugene Ormandy.

David Oistrakh is, for me, the most accomplished violinist of the 20th century. If I were to write a violin concerto (Not that I can anyway), he would turn it into a lovely composition. His performance in this concerto is breathtaking. Especially in the first and third movements, I listened in awe as he played effortlessly with such divine beauty. The beginning of the first movement (Allegro Moderato) is not real. Can't be!!!

Apart from the violin concerto, "The Swan Of Tuonela" is also added to the B side. This is probably the most touching movement of Sibelius's suite, Lemminkainen, which is the musical version of the Finnish legend Kalevala. The beauty of expression in this piece is fascinating as the lyrical version explains Tuonela as hell and this is a notion which Sibelius didn't find hard to picture in utmost efficiency and romanticism.

Here I also want to comment on another thing. Penguin books have released several guides concerning different genres of music including Classical, Jazz and Blues. These guides are pretty useful within themselves, but unfortunately they only include CD and DVD releases. In all the three genres, a huge amount of music was released on vinyl and never again released as CD or else. Therefore leaving these out is a big hole in the guide. For instance this performance of Oistrakh is not even mentioned in the guide. I've also seen other critical vinyl releases not mentioned as well, including the legendary box set of Shostakovich Symphonies by Kondrashin which was released by Melodiya at the time. I can also name other missing titles for Jazz as well, especially on Thelonious .Monk and John Coltrane's part as well as some crucial ECM titles. Hopefully in the near future Penguin editors will find the decency to add these vinyl only releases to their portfolio. I'm pretty much sure most of those guys would have these records anyway.

To buy this record:

@ Discogs (A different pressing)
@ Ebay

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