Peter Stark: 'It has always fascinated me how so much music sounds like the composer's country of origin - Vaughan Williams, Copland, Bartok etc etc. This applies so well to this Scandinavian feast, where we can compare the very particular sound worlds of Nielsen's Denmark with the dark and brooding world of the Finland of Sibelius. The first symphony of Jean Sibelius lays the ground from which all his later symphonies grow; passionate, austere, monolithic. I amazes me these pieces aren't more often played…'
Sibelius Symphony no. 1
Jean Sibelius's Symphony No. 1 in E minor was started in 1898 and finished in early 1899, when he was 33. The work was first performed on 26 April 1899 by the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by the composer, in an original version which has not survived. After the premiere, Sibelius made some revisions, resulting in the version performed today. The revised version was completed in the spring and summer of 1900, and was first performed in Berlin by the Helsinki Philharmonic, conducted by Robert Kajanus on 18 July 1900.
The symphony is characterised by its use of string and woodwind solos; the first movement opens with a long and discursive clarinet solo over a timpani roll; this idea returns at the start of the fourth movement, fortissimo in the strings, with wind and brass chordal accompaniment), and subsequent movements include violin, viola, and cello solos [more from Wikipedia...]
Nielsen Violin Concerto
Carl Nielsen's Concerto for Violin and orchestra was written for Hungarian violinist Dr. Emil Telmányi, Nielsen's son-in-law, in 1911. The concerto has three movements.
It was not an easy assignment for him. He began writing it in the summer of 1911 in Bergen, Norway, where he was spending some time at the invitation of Nina Grieg. It progressed with some difficulty as Nielsen, now back in his native Denmark, commented that the concerto "has to be good music, and yet always make allowances for the activity of the solo instrument in the best light, that is rich in content, popular and dazzling without becoming superficial." In fact, he did not complete it until mid-December.
Unlike Nielsen's later works, the concerto has a distinct, melody-oriented Neo-Classical structure. Unusually, there are three movements. The calm "Praeludium" is followed by a catching tune for the orchestra providing opportunities for tricks by the violin. The long, slow Adagio leads to the final Scherzo which, as Nielsen commented, "renounces everything that might dazzle or impress." [more from Wikipedia...]