Monday, 15 April 2013

Sir Colin Davis (1927 - 2013) on Sibelius and his cooperation with the LSO

Sir Colin Davis (2007)
(image wiki)

Friends of classical music all over the world have been paying tribute to Sir Colin Davis, who died yesterday after a short illness at the age of 85.

I would like to pay homage to Sir Colin - whom I was privileged to meet a number of times when living in London in the early 1990s - by quoting a letter I have in my possession. In the letter, dated 15th December 1992, Sir Colin writes about  the Sibelius cycle he did with the LSO at the Barbican in the autumn of the same year:

"For us, the musicians, Sibelius has emerged as a huge figure, who says things which we have forgotten to listen to in ourselves,or that we are too frightened to listen to. Certainly no local landscape artist but a great human spirit"

Sir Colin's 1992 Sibelius cycle was a huge success, and was followed by a great number of other outstanding Sibelius concerts and recordings in the years to follow. However, the concert on the Finnish Independence Day, December 6 1992, when Sir Colin and the LSO performed the Kullervo Symphony and Finlandia, was an event, which those of us who were there will never forget.

Seppo Heikinheimo, the then chief critic of Finland's leading daily, Helsingin Sanomat, summed it up in in his report from the Barbican:

"Jean Sibelius's Kullervo and Finlandia almost lifted the roof of the Barbican"

"I have heard quite a few performances of Kullervo, but never anything as impressive as this one." The thanks go to Sir Colin Davis, who stirred up an unbelievable amount of energy from the score." 

In another letter, dated 3rd June 1993, Sir Colin enthuses about his continued cooperation with the LSO:

"The adventure with the L.S.O. is a special one for me: it all began 35 years ago. I feel like a wild goose returning to the land where I was born!

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