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Piece of the week (December 8th 2014)

This week’s piece is Symphony No. 7 by the Finnish composer Jean Sibelius.

Youtube Link

Sibelius’s seventh (1924) is his last completed symphony although he lived until 1957 and destroyed or left fragments of other works. Composition students may recognise the bit at around 5’30ish …

This is a fascinating symphony – it develops quite slowly and organically and in its single movement it rarely moves out of C major for long. Sibelius was the master of the long span – his music always sounds like it is moving purposefully forward, sometimes with excitement, sometimes sternly and sometimes with trepidation. He makes you wait for climactic moments but you feel you deserve them when they do arrive.

There is a really good Discovering Music programme about this symphony from Radio 3.

If this piece with its sombre opening textures does not immediately grab you then try the last movement of his fifth symphony first or his Tchaikovskian first symphony.