Eero Järnefelt: Autumn Landscape of Lake Pielisjärvi

NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchester / Nikolaj Szeps-Znaider / Alan Gilbert

Violinist Nikolaj Szeps-Znaider plays Sibelius. Also on the programme: Brahms' »Tragic Overture« and Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 6, »Pathétique«. Stream from 4.11. 2022 no longer available.

He possesses »perhaps one of the most exquisite violin tones ever captured on CD«. At least according to the experts at stringed-instrument magazine The Strad. Danish violinist Nikolaj Szeps-Znaider has been causing a ripple on the music scene for a long time, and in recent years he has added another feather to his cap with an impressive conducting career. But on his return to the NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchestra, he leaves the »big paintbrush«, as he puts it, to chief conductor Alan Gilbert, preferring to wield a »much smaller brush« as the soloist in the Sibelius Violin Concerto.

»Probably every violin student will have heard this from his teacher while working on the Sibelius Violin Concerto: To give an adequate performance of the score, one needs to have visited Finland, or at least to be able to imagine the Finnish landscape.«

Julius Heile

Alan Gilbert Alan Gilbert © Peter Hundert
NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchestra NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchestra © Nikolaj Lund
Nikolaj Szeps-Znaider Nikolaj Szeps-Znaider © Lars Gundersen


NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchester

Nikolaj Szeps-Znaider Violin

conductor Alan Gilbert


Johannes Brahms
Tragische Ouvertüre d-Moll op. 81

Jean Sibelius
Konzert für Violine und Orchester d-Moll op. 47

– Interval –

Piotr I. Tschaikowsky
Sinfonie Nr. 6 h-Moll op. 74 »Pathétique«

About the music

If we stick to the metaphor, he will need mostly different shades of forest green for the Finnish composer’s work, plus a little aquamarine, some black and grey and a few squirts of white. Ideally, the full range of colours!

Jean Sibelius
Jean Sibelius © Lehtikuva / Wikimedia

Talking of colours: the other works in the concert are likewise based on the (supposed) dark tones. While Brahms wrote his »Tragic Overture« as a contrast to the blithe »Academic Festival Overture«, Tchaikovsky's highly emotional »Pathétique« paints a colossal orchestral  panorama of human cares and suffering.

Some critics even believe that the first and in particular the utterly sad last movement of the work show that the composer already had a premonition of his approaching death. But we shouldn't ignore the two middle movements, a camouflaged waltz and a triumphant march, where life's joys and hopes are given ample room.

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