City Noir is a symphony inspired by the peculiar ambience and mood of Los Angeles ‘noir’ films, especially those produced in the late forties and early fifties. It is an homage not only to the film music of that period but also to the overall aesthetic of the era with its scurrying strings and winds, ominous brass chords and syncopated jazz drumming. It is the third in a triptych of orchestral works that have as their theme the California experience, its landscape and its culture.
Sibelius dearly wanted to be a great violin virtuoso, and his concerto more than proves his love for the instrument. He opposes rather than meshes solo and orchestra in a succession of wonderful melodies until reaching a giddying climax of syncopated brilliance. At times dreamy and reflective and at others turbulent and darkly passionate, it is full of technical prowess – a deep and gritty orchestral exploration from darkness into light.
Described as “the climax of the spiritual experience of a lifetime”, Sibelius’ last symphony shines with a unique radiance. Written as one seamless tapestry of interrelated motifs, it is like a giant rondo – the culmination of a lifetime of work in the direction of concision, compression and organic unity within symphonic form.