22 August 2011
Most of Sibelius's music was designed to be part of a public art, aimed at large audiences. But unlike Mahler, Sibelius confronted the Wagnerian interplay between language and music by shifting the emphasis away from the literary and emancipating music from language. His work is strikingly architectural, rather than paralleling in music the syntax, semantics, and grammar of language. It is concerned primarily with large forms and spaces, rather than melodic and harmonic variation and dialogue, much less outright literary inspiration.
By circumventing the musical connection to language, the literary, and the dramatic, Sibelius found a way to musically alter our perception of time. There is a magical slowness and simplicity in Sibelius out of which emerges a distinct sound and stark, alluring beauty. Music is allied with nature. For Sibelius, aggregate sounds—as much as melodies and themes—become constituent elements of composition. Orchestration becomes a basic element, not something one completes after a work is written. The music is more atmospheric than discursive. It evokes a response and plays on sensibility rather than suggesting logic and arguing a point.
Read the rest at The Chronicle of Higher Education.
Viktoria Mullova performs Sibelius' Violin Concerto in D minor, Op. 47