Jean Sibelius: Andante Festivo
Initially scored for string quartet in 1922, Sibelius’ poignant work Andante Festivo can also be identified for its re-orchestration for string orchestra and timpani. For the needs of references on this weblog, I can be referring to the unique string quartet model. Though now fondly remembered and revered for his orchestral music, Sibelius additionally composed many works for chamber teams, particularly in his youth. The beliefs and artistry of chamber music was usually frowned upon by his tutor Martin Wegelius, and so Sibelius ended up holding numerous this music secret. Though Sibelius was very eager on chamber music in his youth, after round 1891, he started to fully neglect the style, and solely made some exceptions (for instance his String Quartet in D minor ‘Voces intimae’ – composed in 1909).
Throughout the run as much as Christmas 1922, Walter Parvianien commissioned Sibelius to compose a festive cantata for the 25 12 months celebration of the Säynästsalo sawmills. As a substitute of the bigger scale work that was requested, Sibelius determined to work with a small ensemble, and shortly settled with a string quartet. It has been urged that the sketches that Andante Festivo is predicated on got here from some very early sketches for an oratorio.
Though the unique string quartet model displays some unparalleled magnificence in Sibelius’ writing, the composer was not happy sufficient with the result. He needed extra richness and majesty to seep via the wonderful melodies within the work. In 1929, the composer’s niece, Riittaa Sibelius, obtained married, and requested Andante Festivo to be carried out on the ceremony. Sibelius selected to make use of two string quartets mixed so as to add some further layers into the work. It was from right here that the composer started taking the steps to provide a brand new model of the work. By the mid-Nineteen Thirties Sibelius had re-orchestrated the work for a full string orchestra and timpani.
In 1939, Sibelius carried out his new model of the work for a full string orchestra and timpani, which turned the one recording of Sibelius as a conductor. The work stayed to shut to the composer’s coronary heart, and was performed, in its authentic kind, at his funeral in 1957.
Starting with the higher strings taking part in the primary, very delicate, theme the cello enters in its higher register, which creates an excellent environment from the beginning. While the higher strings are in unison when it comes to their motion, the cello affords a solution to the melody, creating a really intimate line of communication between the devices.
There’s an emphasis on lengthy chords right here, with the gradual melodic motion finally ending up on a protracted held chord performed by everybody. The concept that every instrument strikes within the hopes of uniting once more creates much more of a heart-wrenching environment once they lastly do come collectively. The nuanced chromatic shifts additionally assist this concept, with the resolutions portraying a way of reduction for the devices.
After a small silent pause, the opening is repeated as soon as extra to reinstate the chief melodic materials. The music then begins to be developed, with the higher strings transferring up even greater of their register, and the cello beginning to play a few of its decrease notes. That is then developed over the work.
The dynamic contrasts Sibelius has written all through this work is a big cause as to why it’s so efficient. Simply because the devices begin to develop in dynamic, when it then repeats an announcement it’s a lot quieter, highlighting the shift in environment between sections. These shifts of dynamics get extra intense every time, with the ultimate climax coming close to the tip of the work the place the ensemble hit a really managed forte, after which repeat the melody at a quaint piano.
The music begins to wrap up on the finish of Andante Festivo, providing a snapshot of the melody, which stays largely unchanged all through the entire work. The chain of suspensions that Sibelius makes use of right here creates a wealthy texture and hones in on the thought of bringing all the devices collectively for an imposing finish to this extremely transferring work. The highest violin pushes the ultimate decision via and the decrease devices then finish the work with a poignant ‘amen’ chord.
Now identified for his giant symphonic works comparable to Finlandia and his symphonies, it’s pertinent to spotlight a few of his smaller works, which present that a few of his greatest and most unbelievable musical concepts had the smallest of beginnings.
Each variations of Andante Festivo are sensible at conveying the environment that Sibelius was heading for presently. It’s gradual tempo, modifications in dynamics and fixed reassurance of the melody makes this one in every of his most memorable works.
Ⓒ Alex Burns
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