Sibelius’s 5th Symphony
First movement is very quick, with strings being used to the maximum, very very quickly to mimic the flapping of the wings. This build up with the woodwind before slowing down – could this be the swans taking off.
Delicate pizzicato of strings begins the second movement and combined with the flute and brass sounds very much as if the birds are in flight already with the strings swaying to the flapping of the wings and the swans in the sky, looking beautiful. Strings combine with the woodwind and brass to complement the feeling of air and the majesty of the swan in flight. Dramatic without overdoing it.
Third movement. Strings become quicker and the brass and woodwind are more dominant, whilst you can hear the gentle strings. Again a suggestion of wonder about the swans in flight. Deeper sounding. at one point the strings are so faint – swans in the distance, maybe turning around and coming back. Deeper sounds suggest the majesty of their approach maybe? If this is the case that is when we are moving towards the movement and symphony. Some of the motifs in this section. sound very much like something I have heard before but in a more popular music setting.
Strings playing pizzicato numerous times which I would say adds a delicacy to the piece. Strings do convey the majesty of wings moving in the sky.
Orchestra ebbs and flows during the course but build up to a crescendo in the final minute of the piece. Are the swans landing. Such drama, such majesty and a beautiful beautiful ending.
Nielsen’s 5th Symphony
Completely different feel to this compared with the Sibelius 5th. only has two movements. Beautiful strings opening with bassoon, strings play lightly whilst the orchestra comes in. Compared to Sibelius there seems to be more of the orchestra used.
Going through the 1st movement there begins a tension in the strings and something brewing. the deep strings suggest a seriousness. Midway through the first movement that urgent sounds like a war cry with percussion sounding like an army marching, a sense of doom, there is a motif playing in the strings and I do believe I can hear that in the flute with the percussion still marching on. Then as we move on there seems to be that battle between good and evil.
Second movement starts off with the brass expressing itself and the strings are prominent and ease off to a background where we have flute. Going through there is a sense of urgency in the strings. which is then reflected in the wind instruments, but there is always an underlying tension in the strings. There is a motif I can hear repeated by the wind instruments which sounds like something I have heard in a film score in the past. The instruments all start battling with one another midway though the final movement….it then tails off into a silence only to introduce soft strings again. The instruments all come together to build up into a percussion heavy finale