Happy 2012 to you all! I hope you had a wonderful holiday season and are off to a great start this year.
Now if you want to be off to a really great start this year, look no further than this week’s performances of Sibelius’ 2nd Symphony. I titled this blog “Finding Exhilaration” not because I haven’t found exhilaration yet, but because I always want more… Usually, a given piece will have a different feeling for you depending on the day – but then there are some moments in music that simply take control of you and lift up your day – make you feel like nothing is too much to handle. And one of those moments is the finale of Sibelius’ 2nd Symphony.
I remember recently having lunch with a family where the father, while not a musician, was a fan of Sibelius. While we were talking, he had put the 2nd Symphony on in the background. We were hardly listening to it, but suddenly mid-sentence, we both stopped and said, “this is it!”. And the towering crescendo of D Major began, the pounding timpani and tuba, the shimmering strings, and then the trumpets soaring above. Nobody said a word till it finished.
One of my best memories growing up was the first time I heard this symphony played by my hometown Boulder Philharmonic Orchestra under the direction of Theodore Kuchar. The impression was so strong that I can still picture where I was seated in the audience and feel the way the hall shook during the thunderous climaxes.
While the ending always makes the biggest impression, its true effect lies in the experience of listening to the whole symphony. The preceding movements have a very unsettling effect – a sort of restless melancholy covers it all. So how remarkable is it that the hesitant rising figure at the very beginning of the symphony transforms into the magnificent conclusion to the whole work?
…well, it’s remarkable enough to make it into my personal “Hall of Fame for Exhilarating Moments”. I hope it can make it into yours this weekend as well!