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On the verge of disintegration (Hall of Fame #89)

YouTube comments on classical music videos are often quite helpful, and I've titled this post with some words from one of them. John Borstlap wrote in full, "Beautifully conducted & performed... This piece is insanely original, depicting something grand that is sometimes on the verge of disintegrating but is recovering again and again." The piece he described was Sibelius's 5th Symphony, performed by the Frunkfurt Radio Symphony with Hugh Wolff wielding the baton.

Sibelius premiered this work on his birthday in 1915. Given the composition date I was bracing myself for something a bit more dissonant, so I was relieved to hear elegant melodic writing and mostly conventional harmony. Still, this is a clear departure from the concrete rules and forms of the classical era. I don't think any of Mozart's pieces threaten to disintegrate at any point.

I've been practising my own orchestral writing recently, using sample libraries that give a very accurate sound of the real instruments. Partly, this countdown blogging series is helping me digest ways of writing for the orchestra. I noted a lot of violin tremolo in this one. In fact, the role of the strings here seems to be the creation of a rippling sea for the other sections to go sailing in.

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