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Donald Macleod untangles the full, tragic saga of Sibelius's Eighth Symphony - from its conception, through the composer's years of self-criticism, to the work's final destruction.

In today's episode, Donald Macleod untangles the full, tragic saga of Sibelius' Eighth Symphony - from its initial conception, through the composer's years of tortuous evasions, mysterious allusions and lacerating self-criticism.tantalising periods of hope (as recorded in the composer's diary).and the work's final, devastating annihilation for all time.

We'll hear a series of chamber works written almost as a pressure release (or calculated avoidance?), as Sibelius struggled painfully with his magnum opus that never was.as well as a vintage 1933 performance of the composer's Seventh Symphony, conducted by a man who dreamed of giving the premiere of its successor: Serge Koussevitsky.

1 hour

Music Played

  • Jean Sibelius

    Canzonetta from Kuolema ("Death")

    Arranger: Stravinsky Performers: The Avanti Orchestra / Jukka-Pekka Saraste

    • BIS CD292.
  • Jean Sibelius

    Four Pieces for violin and piano, Op.115 [excerpt] (1929) (III. Humoreske)

    Performers: Pekka Kuusisto (violin), Heini Kärkkäinen (piano)

    • ONDINE ODE10462.
  • Jean Sibelius

    Five Esquisses, Op.114 (1928-9)

    Performer: Erik Tawastjerna (piano)

    • BIS CD278.
  • Jean Sibelius

    Suite For Violin and Strings, Op.117 (1929)

    Performers: Christian Tetzlaff (violin), Danish National Symphony Orchestra / Thomas Dausgaard

    • VIRGIN CLASSICS 545532.
  • Jean Sibelius

    Symphony no.7 in C, Op.105

    Performers: Serge Koussevitsky / BBC Symphony Orchestra

    • Live, Queens's Hall London, 15th May 1933.
    • EMI 5659182.

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