Sunday glistened, a perfect day for a walk at Innisfree Garden. The trees are in full leaf, the grounds are lush and green, and the next wave of flowers is coming on.
Jean Sibelius, Third Symphony in C Major, Op. 52
The Third Symphony of Sibelius is about the pleasure of making music. Certain pieces by Beethoven are tours de force in composing interestingly, even dramatically, with the most neutral materials imaginable. The Triple Concerto and the Consecration of the House Overture are two unpopular examples and the Emperor Concerto is a popular one. The Sibelius Third is part of this tradition. Its chief traits are modesty and energy. The orchestration, for 1907, is unassuming. The basic, very “classical” sonority is that of strings and woodwinds, and one seems to hear more of the soft-edged flutes and clarinets than of the sharper double-reeds. The horns and drums are busy, but the trumpets and trombones intervene rarely and economically. The first movement has not one half-dozen measures of fortissimo, the second none at all, and the third only two measures before the last minute of peroration.
[A]n “anti-monumental . . . counter-response to Mahler’s expansive Fifth Symphony, which [Sibelius] had studied in 1905,” Sibelius’s Third “strives to recover both the diatonic melodic fragment and the pure triad as meaningful modern utterances by presenting them in non-normative ways.”
—Arnold Whittall, in The Cambridge Companion to Sibelius, quoting James Hepokoski’s Sibelius.
Credits: The quotations may be found at the sources linked in the text. The photographs, as always unless otherwise indicated, are mine.