Nielsen 3 & Waarts plays Sibelius

Fri 24.11.23 20:00
€ 48 - 40 - 26 - 12

Antonín Dvořák, In Nature’s Realm, Op. 91, B. 168
Jean Sibelius, Violin Concerto in D minor, Op. 47
Carl Nielsen, Symphony No. 3, Op. 27, FS 60, “Sinfonia Espansiva”


Before the concert, associate conductor Michael Schønwandt will give a multilingual introduction from 19:00 to 19:30 in the Henry Le Bœuf Hall. Admission is free on presentation of a concert ticket.


Due to illness, Christian Tetzlaff will be replaced by Stephen Waarts, laureate of the Queen Elisabeth Competition.



In Nature’s Realm, a concert overture by Antonín Dvořák, sounds like a landscape painting of the peaceful forests surrounding the Czech composer’s home village. The counterpoint at the end of this work is an ode to Johann Sebastian Bach.

Things get even more idyllic in Finnish composer Jean Sibelius’ Violin Concerto. Obsessed with Finnish sagas, lakes and forests, Sibelius combines a late-Romantic style with modern Nordic sound aesthetics in this work. The melody with which the violin opens the concerto seems familiar, accompanied by gently pulsing strings. After a very romantic and incredibly lyrical second movement comes a frankly ecstatic final movement that demands a great deal of virtuosity from the soloist and was described by Sibelius as a ‘danse macabre’. Stephen Waarts, the Dutch-American violinist and laureate of the Queen Elisabeth Competition in 2015, will perform Sibelius' most celebrated work.

Associate conductor Michael Schønwandt has been an ambassador of Danish composer Carl Nielsen for many years, with celebrated recordings of all his symphonies and all his concertos. In this concert with the Belgian National Orchestra, he performs the Third Symphony: the work with which Carl Nielsen made his national and international breakthrough in 1912. The second movement of this symphony, with wordless solos for soprano and baritone, depicts the peaceful, paradisiacal atmosphere of nature before the Fall. After this pastoral andante, the French horns announce a rhythmic scherzo oscillating between major and minor modes, with shining roles for the woodwinds. The fourth and final movement, “a hymn to work and to the healthy activity of daily life” (Carl Nielsen), starts with a folk-like hymn theme and reaches a grandiose climax with broadly extended counterpoint. The shadows and despair that characterise Carl Nielsen’s later symphonies are nowhere to be seen in the pre-war Third Symphony.


Michael Schønwandt, conductor
Stephen Waarts, violin
Ecem Topçu, soprano
Marcus Dawson, baritone


© Photo by Emma Wernig


Michael Schønwandt

Michael Schønwandt, born in Copenhagen, is Principal Conductor of the Opéra Orchestre National de Montpellier.

Stephen Waarts

“I’m convinced he is the real deal.” (Gramophone)

Ecem Topçu

Turkish soprano Ecem Topcu made her professional debut in 2018 as Arsena in Der Zigeunerbaron and in 2019 as Susanna in Le Nozze di Figaro at Samsun State Opera and Ballet.

Marcus Dawson

Musical upbringing