Category Archives: Program notes

Kaija Saariaho: NoaNoa (1992)

The name of this piece refers to a series of ten woodcuts Paul Gauguin executed after his return to Paris from Tahiti in 1893. The figures on these plates of hard wood reflect the style of Oceanic sculptures Gauguin had … Continue reading

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Jean Sibelius: Symphony No. 2 in D major, Op. 43 (1901–02)

Composed: 1901–1902 Length: c. 43 minutes Orchestration: 2 flutes, 2 oboes, 2 clarinets, 2 bassoons, 4 horns, 3 trumpets, 3 trombones, tuba, timpani, and strings In March 1900, a couple of months before the first European concert tour of the … Continue reading

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Jean Sibelius: Symphony No. 1 in E minor, Op. 39 (1899/1900)

Composed: 1899–1900 Length: c. 40 minutes Orchestration: 2 flutes (both = piccolo), 2 oboes, 2 clarinets, 2 bassoons, 4 horns, 3 trumpets, 3 trombones, tuba, timpani, percussion (bass drum, cymbals, triangle), harp, and strings Actually, Sibelius’s first symphony is Kullervo, … Continue reading

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Magnus Lindberg: Mano a mano (2004)

Mano a mano ist Lindbergs erstes Stück für Gitarre solo. Das Instrument ist ihm aber nicht ganz unbekannt, denn er setzte es in verschienenen Kammermusikwerken wie Linea d’ombra für Flöte, Altsaxophon (oder Klarinette), Gitarre und Schlagzeug (1981), Decorrente für Klarinette, … Continue reading

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Esa‑Pekka Salonen

Esa‑Pekka Salonen’s music may be roughly divided into three periods. When studying composition with Rautavaara at the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki in the late 1970s he wrote smoothly neo‑Romantic chamber music with expressive melodic phrases and tonal harmony, such as … Continue reading

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Béla Bartók: Bluebeard’s Castle

The best-known modern variation on the Bluebeard theme based on an ancient legend is no doubt Chaplin’s film Monsieur Verdoux (1947). Monsieur Verdoux is a bank clerk who loses his job during the great depression of the 1930s. He, therefore, … Continue reading

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Bartók’s String Quartets

Bartók’s six string quartets constitute one of the greatest cycles in the genre in the history of music. In terms of volume, he falls far short of the Viennese Classics Haydn with 80 quartets, Mozart with 26 and Beethoven with … Continue reading

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Béla Bartók: String Quartet no. 4 (1928)

In his Fourth String Quartet, written between July and September, 1928, Bartók implemented his “bridge form” for the first time. The order of the movements is strictly symmetrical. The slow movement, which is the core of the work, is flanked … Continue reading

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Béla Bartók: String Quartet no. 2 (1915–1917)

“I have even had time – and the ability – to compose a bit; it seems as if the muses are not silent even during a modern war,” wrote Bartók in 1915 to his friend János Busitia. The Second String … Continue reading

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Béla Bartók: String Quartet no. 1 op. 2 (1908–9)

Bartók’s First String quartet is closely related to the First Violin Concerto (op. posth.) written in 1907–8 and its sister work Two Portraits, op. 5. These compositions, as Bartók’s letters show, have a semi-programmatic nature: in them, the composer limns … Continue reading

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