Friday 09 March 2018

Sibelius Five

RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra

Time 7:30pm
National Concert Hall Dublin

Tickets: from €15

  • Jaime Martin
  • Javier Perianes 
  • Nielsen
    Seven Pieces from Aladdin / 23’
  • Ravel
    Piano Concerto in G / 23’
  • Sibelius
    Symphony No. 5 in E flat / 30’

An exotic musical pantomime for grown-ups, a zesty, jazz-accented piano concerto of brilliant contrasts and a symphony in which the Norse god Thor swings his hammer. Jaime Martín, ‘a visionary conductor, discerning and meticulous’ (Platea magazine), returns to the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra with Javier Perianes – ‘a player of growing international reputation’ (Bachtrack) – as soloist in the concerto.

When drastic changes were made to the production of Aladdin planned for Copenhagen’s Royal Theatre in 1919, Carl Nielsen realised that the first casualty was his score for the poet Adam Oehlenschläger’s ‘dramatic fairy tale’. Before the show opened, Nielsen distanced himself from it and, to salvage what he could from the debacle, created an orchestral suite of seven short pieces. The result suggests the production was to be one of epic proportions and Nielsen responded on a symphonic scale that teems with drama, incident and exotic colouring. The Suite is dance-led, the seven sections variously referencing Hindu, Chinese and ‘Negro’ dances along with an Oriental festival march, a poetic dreamscape and a bustling marketplace in the central Persian (now Iranian) town of Isfahan.

On a concert tour of the United States in 1928, Ravel had his first encounter with jazz music and was immediately smitten by ‘its rich and diverting rhythm’. Begun the following year, his G major Piano Concerto pays thrilling homage to jazz, borrowing its driving energy, rhythmic excitability, rapturous lyricism and romantic brio in a work of brilliant contrasts. Ravel himself famously declared that ‘the music of a concerto… should be light-hearted and brilliant’. This concerto offers vivacious testimony to that conviction.

The gestation of Sibelius’s Fifth Symphony was difficult, the work going through three substantial revisions before the composer was satisfied with it. What resulted was compact and concentrated and pointed the way towards his increasing pre-occupation with music as a voice for the elemental forces of nature. Following immediately on from the nihilism of the Fourth Symphony, the Fifth inhabits a different world and sensibility altogether. Heroic and mythic, it opens and closes with exaltations to two deities. The slow-building atmospheric glow of the beginning illustrated, said the composer, ‘God opening His door for a moment’, while the thunderous climax has been compared to ‘Thor swinging his hammer’.

SOUNDINGS 6.30pm Conductor Jaime Martín and pianist Javier Perianes in conversation