Yosuke Kawasaki ©Remi Thériault
NACO Home Delivery

Sibelius and Alexina Louie

In this Home Delivery, we share with you music from our 2017 festival “Ideas of North”, celebrating Canada and Finland, and our connection as northern countries where our vast landscapes and cultural identities are often interwoven into our music.

The music of legendary Finnish composer Jean Sibelius anchored our festival. With this Home Delivery, you will hear Sibelius’ Seventh Symphony as well as Tapiola, his final major orchestral work, alongside a triple concerto by Canadian composer Alexina Louie, written for the three concertmasters of the NAC Orchestra, Montreal Symphony Orchestra and Toronto Symphony Orchestra.

In Finnish mythology, Tapio is the god of the forest, and Tapiola his kingdom. The tone poem Tapiola, therefore immediately evokes visions of a mysterious forest landscape. To quote Sibelius, the work is full of “thick, dark forests that dream wild dreams…and half-glimpsed spirits, and the voices of twilight.” This was the composer’s last major symphonic work (though he would live another 30 years). Tapiola was premiered in New York in 1926, and is now considered to be one of his finest works, musically quite close to his Seventh Symphony.

In 2017, we collaborated with the Montreal and Toronto Symphony Orchestras to commission the great Canadian composer Alexina Louie to write a work for our three concertmasters—Yosuke Kawasaki, Jonathan Crow (TSO) and Andrew Wan (OSM)—as part of the TSO’s Canada 150 series of commissions. The result is a taut 15-minute Concerto for Three Violins where the soloists are equal partners, each with a virtuosic role. They play almost continuously, with an easy camaraderie and stellar musicianship, resulting in a very exciting piece! 

Sibelius’ Seventh Symphony was written two years before Tapiola, and Sibelius himself conducted the premiere, calling it Fantasia sinfonica; it was only later that Sibelius deemed this ambitious work a symphony. The Seventh is considered his most characteristic—it is enigmatic and ambiguous, with his musical thoughts compressed into one continuous movement. It plays tricks with our perceptions of time, speed and motion, like a musical time-warp, and it is by turns dramatic, noble, expressive and anguished, finishing with a peaceful serenity.

We hope you enjoy hearing the beauty of Sibelius’ music and the wonderful solo from our own concertmaster, Yosuke Kawasaki.

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