Symphony No. 4 (Sibelius)

Symphony No. 4 (Sibelius)

Symphony No. 4 (Sibelius)

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The Symphony No. 4 in A minor, Op. 63, is one of seven symphonies composed by Jean Sibelius. Written between 1910 and 1911, it was premiered in Helsinki on 3 April 1911 by the Philharmonia Society, with Sibelius conducting.

The work comprises four movements:

I. Tempo molto moderato, quasi adagio
II. Allegro molto vivace
III. Il tempo largo
IV. Allegro

For this work Sibelius reversed the traditional Classical positions of the second and third movements, placing the slow movement as the third. He also begins the piece with a slow movement instead of the traditional fast opening movement (this is the same order as many baroque orchestral works).

The interval of the tritone dominates the melodic and harmonic material of the piece, but in a completely different way from how it dominates the Third Symphony. It is stated immediately, in a dark phrase for cellos, double basses and bassoons, rising C-D-F-E over a hard unison C. Most of the themes of the symphony involve the tritone; in the finale, much of the harmonic tension arises from a collision between the keys of A minor and E major, a tritone apart. The bitonal clash between A and E in the finale's recapitulation leads to tonal chaos in the coda, in which the rival notes C, A, E and F (that is, the interlocking tritone pairs C-F, A-E) each strive for ascendancy in a series of grinding dissonances with many clashes between major and minor thirds. The glockenspiel pathetically attempts to hail the momentary establishment of A...
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