Piano Concerto in A minor op.16 (1868)
Symphony No. 2 in D major op. 43 (1900–02)
Introduction 50 minutes before the start of the concert in the concert hall
Hearing the grass grow is an activity limited to proverbs, of course. Yet there are pieces of music creating the impression that one can hear them grow, sprawl and proliferate.
Jean Sibelius’ Symphony No. 2 is such a case: from three notes, a living musical being gradually unfolds. Like a resounding organism, born from an inconspicuous creative germ cell. To many Finns, this work is a kind of national treasure. Of course, it has nature-inspired Nordic sounds symbolizing Finland’s cultural independence. However, this symphony, which Sibelius composed between 1900 and 1902, undergoes significant temperature swings. Who knows – perhaps because he was spending time intermittently in the warmer climate of Italy?
Composers too have their favourite composers, revered colleagues and great role models. Had Grieg not gone beyond the first few pages of his Concerto for Piano and Orchestra, he might have been told: that’s all very well, Edvard, but doesn’t it sound a lot like Schumann’s Piano Concerto? However, as a listener, one can follow Edvard Grieg finding his very own tone and idiom during the course of this pianistic roller-coaster ride – and not just because he races into the finale with a typically Norwegian leaping dance.
Accelerando. This is the technical term for a phenomenon which basically happens all the time in music: acceleration. As if through a magnifying glass, the Finnish composer Esa- Pekka Salonen allows us to examine this supposedly everyday phenomenon in his piece Helix: as if in a spiral of sound, we follow the stormy adventure of continuous increase towards a climax. Afterwards, you might be tempted to say: accelerando? Very impressive – you really had to have been there yourself!