Dalia Stasevska conducts music by Aaron Copland, Jean Sibelius and Egil Hovland.
The dream of embarking on a new life drove the pioneers to America in the 1800’s, and in Oslo Concert Hall tonight, you can almost hear the sound of their optimism in a refreshing, popular guise as talented conductor Dalia Stasevska conducts Aaron Copland’s quintessentially American Appalachian Spring. On the other side of the world, Sibelius praised the Finnish spring and evoked the landscape, God and the swans in his Symphony No. 5 before allowing it to spiral into infinity. Also Egil Hovland valued new life — his Viola Concerto is “a song for the unborn child” and will be performed by leading violist Lars Anders Tomter.
“Lord, this beauty!”, wrote Jean Sibelius (1865-1957) in his journal when sixteen swans circled above him one spring day in 1915. He was inspired to note down the horn theme from the finale in Symphony No. 5 (1919). Sibelius was inspired by nature, but his final works are also expressions of the universal and the infinite, raised far above wordly imitation and inspiration. Symphony No. 5 is one of his most complete works in this respect: already from the pastoral idyll of the opening all melodic and harmonic ideas lead to the “Swan hymn” and the famous final salutes where time stands still for a moment.
Aaron Copland (1900-1990) was arguably more earthbound in his Appalachian Spring (1944/1945), a ballet and later a suite about the first settlers in Pennsylvania in the 1800’s. Copland’s use of the traditional melody “Simple Gifts”, simple chords and pure sounds has made this one of his most popular works and to a musical symbol of “The American Dream”.
Egil Hovland’s (1924-2013) Viola Concerto (1997) is the political agitator of the evening. Hovland was an anti-abortion activist, and wrote this work inspired by Psalm 139 (Oh God You Search Me) as “a song for the unborn child”. No one knows the work better than Tomter, who performed its world premiere in Store Studio nearly twenty years ago.
(Text: Thomas Erma Møller; Translation (from Norwegian): Sarah Osa; In photo: Dalia Stasevska; Photo: Jarmo Katila)
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