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Sibelius' subsequent re-evaluation according to Hurwitz' 'spin' stems from (a) the late 20th century rediscovery of melodic, tonal music; evidence of innovative composition within accepted traditions, and (b) the widespread recognition of his immense legacy within Finland's musical culture.
The 'Owner's Manual' is at pains to identify and illustrate the best orchestral works of Sibelius' contemporaries and successors. Furthermore Hurwitz acknowledges the work of the composer's early advocates -- including Koussevitsky, Szell, Ormandy, Toscanini, Beecham and Barbirolli -- and the vital dissemination of his music via Scandanavia's vibrant recording industry -- Ondine (Finland), Finlandia-Warner (Finland), BIS (Sweden) and Simax (Norway).
We read more about the nationalist legacy, the rapidly receding Second Viennese School, and Sibelius' place in Europe's 20th century musical-historical fabric. There are separate sections on Sibelius' use of instruments -- strings, woodwind, brass and percussion -- plus a chapter on the melody, rhythm and movement; prefaced by his use of folk idioms; most notably those derived from Finland's heroic 'Kalevala' legends.
Part Two is given over to the Kullervo Symphony (1892), the Lemminkainen Suite (1895), Symphony No 1 (1899), Symphony No 2 (1902), the 'Violin Concerto' (1903-05) and Symphonies 3-7 (1907-1924). A handy chart illustrates the scoring of each.
Copyright © 16 September 2007
Howard Smith, Masterton, New Zealand