Symphonic Hour - Sibelius 5 & Kobekina plays Elgar
Edward Elgar, Cello Concerto in E minor, Op. 85
Jean Sibelius, Symphony No. 5 in E-flat major, Op. 82
TRUE TO HIMSELF
The Cello Concerto in E minor is the last major work by the British composer Edward Elgar. He wrote this four-movement concerto in 1919, just after the First World War. Its elegiac and contemplative mood can be linked to the anxiety, despair and disillusionment of the war years. The sinuous main theme of the first movement was composed by Elgar while he was waking up from an anaesthetic after having his tonsils removed. He regarded it as something deeply personal: “if you ever hear someone whistling this theme in the Malvern Hills, it will be me”.
By 1915, Jean Sibelius was an established composer whose 50th birthday was declared a public holiday in Finland. Yet he had doubts about himself: in view of the recent modernist achievements of Stravinsky, the French Impressionists and Schönberg, did he have to radically change his compositional style or was there still a future in his nationalistic and highly romantic sound aesthetics? In the Fifth Symphony, he chose to remain true to himself. The third version of this symphony, published in 1919, is a work in three movements. Unique harmonies and phenomenal orchestral colours characterise the organically-developed first movement, which, after a few dark passages, concludes triumphantly with a scherzo-like final movement. This is followed by a warm and charming second movement: a series of variations on a theme introduced by the flute. Sibelius found inspiration for the third and final movement in 16 swans he had seen flying gracefully over a lake near his home. The ending is also famous: it consists of six individual chords, which the conductor - in this concerto James Feddeck - can unleash in a particularly theatrical manner.
James Feddeck, conductor
Anastasia Kobekina, cello
© Photos by Xenia Zasetskaya
Born in New York and hailed by the Chicago Tribune as “A gifted conductor who’s clearly going places”, James Feddeck’s engagements over the past season have included debuts with the BBC Scottish Sy
Being one of the most promising talents of her generation, Anastasia Kobekina debuted with an orchestra at the age of six.