Seeing Music with Wise Music Classical | Part 1

Seeing Music with Wise Music Classical | Part 1
Esa-Pekka Salonen conducting © Hiroyuki Ito

Take a Visual Tour through Highlights of the Wise Music Catalogue

Symphony No. 5, Op. 82 (1919) 33'
Jean Sibelius

A master of the orchestra with seven symphonies to his name, the works of Jean Sibelius established a strong sense of national musical tradition in Finland - a tradition that has flourished ever since, especially at the Academy of Music in Helsinki which adopted his name in 1939. Here is a young Esa-Pekka Salonen conducting the majestic 5th Symphony with The Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra. 

Symphony No. 2 (2000) 40'
John Corigliano
str ( players minimum)

John Corigliano is one of the USA’s most regularly performed composers. Corigliano was immersed in orchestral music from an early age. His father, John Corigliano Sr. was the concert master of the New York Philharmonic for 23 years. Symphony No. 2 is an adaptation for symphonic string orchestra of his first String Quartet. Alfredo Rugeles conducts the Simon Bolivar Orchestra. 

Apu: Tone Poem for Orchestra (2017) 13'
Gabriela Lena Frank

Born in Berkeley, California to a mother of mixed Peruvian/Chinese ancestry and a father of Lithuanian/Jewish descent, Gabriela Lena Frank explores her multicultural heritage most ardently through her compositions.

In Andean Perú, spirits are said to inhabit rocks, rivers, and mountain peaks with the intent of keeping a watchful eye on travellers passing through highland roads. The apu is one of the more well-known (though rarely seen) spirits, sometimes portrayed as a minor deity with a mischievous side. Simple folk song and a solemn prayer often successfully placate the apu to ensure safe passage through the mountains.

Apu: Tone Poem for Orchestra begins with a short folkloric song inspired by the agile "pinkillo" flute, a small slender instrument that packs well into the small bags of travellers who must travel light. It is followed by the extended "haillí" of the second movement, a prayer to the apu, which flows attacca to the third movement in which the apu makes its brief but brilliant and dazzling appearance before disappearing once again into the mountain peaks.

Here the NYO-USA Performs Gabriela Lena Frank’s Apu: Tone Poem for Orchestra with Marin Alsop.

Concerto for Harpsichord (1995) 22'
Michael Nyman

Although he is far too modest to allow the description 'Renaissance Man', Michael Nyman's restless creativity and multi-faceted art has made him one of the most fascinating and influential cultural icons of our times. His orchestral catalogue features numerous symphonies and concerti. The Harpsichord Concerto is a startling example of his ingenuity and invention. 

The composer writes, “This Concerto was composed during the winter of 1994/95 for Elisabeth Chojnacka [...] The Concerto is shaped as a very simple ABA form - the outer sections, derived from The Convertibility of Lute Strings, enfold an elaborated version of Tango for Tim. After the first performance, Elisabeth decreed that the true potential of the Concerto could only be fulfilled by the addition of a cadenza. This was duly composed in the summer of 1995 - a toccata derived from harmonies first heard in the immediate post-Tango for Tim, Convertibility material. (Elisabeth subsequently ordained that the cadenza could also have a life outside the Concerto as a concert piece if it had a few extensions added. Hence - inevitably, the title of the piece - Elisabeth Gets Her Way.)” 

Here, Nyman’s Harpsichord Concerto performed by Mahan Esfahani with the Japan Century Symphony Orchestra conducted by Kentaro Kawase.

Stars, Night, Music and Light (2011) 4'
Judith Weir in F.3.1timporgstr/SATB

Master of the Queens Music, Judith Weir wrote this wonderfully efficient piece for the opening of the BBC Proms in 2011. Taking a line from George Herbert’s poem Man, Weir takes 3 lines from the sixth stanza of the poem and bases the work on those particular words.

Become Ocean (2013) 42'
John Luther Adams

A composer inspired by landscapes, particularly those of Alaska where he lived for over 30 years, John Luther Adams’ music transports us from the confines of isolation with Become Ocean a meditation on the vast, deep and mysterious tides of existence.  Find some much needed space in this recording from Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra with Ludovic Morlot.

(May 2020)