Fire and Ice
Venue Details: The Anvil
- Sibelius : Symphony No.4
- Grieg : Piano Concerto
- Tchaikovsky : Francesca da Rimini
Despite its dim, chilly and ominous emptiness, Sibelius’ Fourth Symphony is fascinating, engaging, even inspiring and its status as a masterwork of the twentieth century is well and truly deserved. Sibelius once pointed out that whilst other composers served the public gaudy sweet cocktails, he offered cold, clear water. Throughout his life he remained proud of the work stating “I am pleased that I did it, for even today I cannot find a single note in it that I could remove, nor can I find anything to add.”
Grieg is beloved for his lyricism which derives from Norwegian folk tunes and the Romantic tradition to which he belongs, and the striking, opening gesture of the Piano Concerto is perhaps one of the most recognizable in all of classical music. Based upon descending seconds and thirds, is but one sign of how Norwegian folk music was making its impact upon his emerging style. It continues with many attractive themes, a thrilling cadenza and much dazzling originality.
In 1876, Tchaikovsky read Dante’s epic poem The Divine Comedy. An episode from the Inferno section fired his imagination: the tale of Francesca, a young woman from the Italian town of Rimini who has been condemned to eternal damnation because of an illicit love affair. Tchaikovsky follows Dante’s narrative closely. After a sombre, unsettling introduction, he vividly depicts the driving winds of hell before the music dies away to a whisper and a pathetic theme on solo clarinet launches Francesca’s tale. The music builds in a long crescendo of passion, displaying his mastery of orchestral colour at its most effective.