Both the Finnish national composer Jean Sibelius and the Danish national composer Carl Nielsen are celebrated this year on their 150th anniversary. Carl Nielsen had his birthday in June while Sibelius was born on 8th December, and December is a doubly fitting month for an anniversary concert, because on the 6th Finland marks 98 years since its independence.


LNSO will be led by the Finnish maestro Petri SAKARI. During his career he has regularly conducted the leading Finnish symphonic orchestras, for several years he was the music director of Icelandic SO, leading also the opening concert of Reykjavik new concert hall Harpa in 2011. Sakari has held high-level positions in the Swedish Chamber Orchestra, Lohja City Orchestra, Gävle Symphony Orchestra, and Turku Philharmonic Orchestra. As a guest conductor he has performed a lot in Denmark and Sweden, also with Bonn, Stuttgart, Saarbrücken, Montpellier, Vienna, the Hague, Liege, Luxembourg, Bournemouth, BBC and other symphonic orchestras. He has led opera productions in Finnish National Opera, Swedish Royal Opera, Gothenburg and Malmö, and Icelandic Operas, and the Theater St. Gallen. On the Internet, one can find high praise of Petri Sakari’s interpretations of Finnish music and see them described as having “fiery grip”, “deep intellect”, “purposeful movement”, so we can expect a truly inspiring concert in Riga. The programme includes two works by Sibelius and one by Nielsen.


Carl NIELSEN (1865–1931) is one of the most notable Danish composers. The Danish music historian Vagn Kappel wrote that Nielsen saved the Danes from the “possibility to suffocate in miserable imitations of late German romanticism”. Nielsen was an absolutely free spirit, and over the time his music went the distance from Brahmsian Romanticism till individually coloured neoclassicism. The list of Nielsen’s works includes samples from various genres, and, while globally he is most often remembered as an author of symphonies, the Danes will probably first name his songs.


In the interpretation of LNSO and Petri Sakari we will hear Carl Nielsen’s Clarinet Concerto (1928). Here a popular quote might fit in – Nielsen once spoke of clarinet’s multifaceted nature, saying that “clarinet can be cordial or utterly hysterical, one moment tender as balm, the next screeching like a tramcar on poorly greased rails.” Egīls Šēfers will be the soloist, and his command of the instrument is truly phenomenal, so we will hear tenderness and hysteria, and, who knows, maybe even a tramcar.


From the works of Jean SIBELIUS (1865–1957) – one early, one late – his First Symphony (1899) and one of Sibelius’ last major orchestral works, the symphonic tone poem Tapiola (1926). The First Symphony shows us a quite young composer (Sibelius was 33 then) who is considerably skilful and possibly wishes to become equal with the great Western European masters by composing a very attractive symphony. The charm of its first movement is almost irresistible while the third fascinates with a nearly non-Nordic playfulness.


Tapiola is a dedication to the forest king Tapio, described in the epic Kalevala. Tapio’s kingdom is “grim, dark spruces” and “lightly grey aspens”, and he himself has a hat of fir-needles and beard of lichen, and on several occasions he is met by the old, wise Väinämöinen. The forest scenes in Kalevala are very beautiful and poetic while Sibelius’ work is full of mysticism, original orchestral textures, boldly outlined passages and an unexpectedly warm finale that at once makes one rethink the nearest travel plans and include therein a visit to Sibelius family’s forest house Ainola.



04 Dec

19.00 / Friday / Riga, The Great Guild


Egīls Šēfers - Klarnete


Petri Sakari


  • Carl Nielsen Clarinet concerto Op. 57
  • Jean Sibelius Tone poem TAPIOLA
  • Jean Sibelius Symphony No. 1 Op. 39

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