Review of Oxford University Philharmonia’s Christmas concert, featuring music by Sibelius, Nielsen, and Arvo Pärt.
2015 has seen the Nordic composers Jean Sibelius and Carl Nielsen dominate concert programmes across the UK. They both celebrated their 150th birthdays this year, along with the Russian composer Alexander Glazunov (who seems to have been largely forgotten). The sounds of their music opened the Proms, whilst the Royal Festival Hall hosted a Sibelius symphony cycle conducted by Simon Rattle, and the Barbican did the same with Nielsen under the baton of Sakari Oramo. Oxford University Philharmonia’s latest concert at the Sheldonian contributed to these anniversary celebrations, offering an ambitious programme of Sibelius’s Fifth and Seventh symphonies, alongside Nielsen’s Saga-drøm and Arvo Pärt’s Cantus in memoriam Benjamin Britten. This was a somewhat predictable combination (where are the more unusual scores like Sibelius’s Scaramouche in the anniversary celebrations?), but the material was for the most part handled admirably by the orchestra and conductor John Warner.
The concert opened…
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