HOWARD SMITH reads
an 'owner's manual' of
Sibelius orchestral works
I find the 'tag line' -- An Owner's Manual -- curious indeed. It's as if I'd bought a new Toyota. Yet insofar as Sibelius' distinctive body of work; En Saga, Kullervo, Finlandia, the seven symphonies, his violin concerto, 'Voces Intimae', the Lemminkainen Legends and Tapiola reside in my subconscious; forever ready to be reawakened -- then I suppose, like other of Hurwitz' readers -- I am a joint 'owner' of sorts.
For the lay reader the most positive aspect of Hurwitz' book is its avoidance of analytical 'gobbledygook'. In addition Amadeus Press has prevailed upon Ondine Records to provide two complementary CDs: (a) illustrative Sibelius tracks and (b) excerpts from work of his countrymen -- excellent reference resources.
Hurwitz reminds us that in the 1930s and '40s Sibelius' audience appeal reached a highpoint on both sides of the Atlantic. Then, after, his death (1957) many academics did something of an about face -- referring to his late 19th century nationalist superficiality and lack of intellectual depth.
Copyright © 16 September 2007
Howard Smith, Masterton, New Zealand