Monteux plays Sibelius score WITH ALTERED ENDING!

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Wallingford
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Monteux plays Sibelius score WITH ALTERED ENDING!

Post by Wallingford » Sun Nov 03, 2013 11:51 pm

For those of you familiar with Pohjola's Daughter, here's a performance with a surprise "happy ending." What occured here--is this alternate ending Monteux's own doing (it's so uncharacteristic for such a modern literalist as he), or was this Sibelius' own original ending? Hard to fathom, as the only recordings from the era of this performance are the Kajanus and Koussevitzky ones.

As you'll recall, instead of the triumphant ending here, Pohjola's Daughter has one of the more desoloate, devastating conclusions in all symphonic repertoire: a long, loping figure that works its way up the string section, holding on a high "F" in the violins, giving the impression of this being the final tonality, but then the cellos and basses add a G/A/B-flat, giving it the final impression of B-flat minor (the actual key signature at the end; the work started in G minor).

If you wish to save time, simply start the video at about !0:00.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0YLp-MVRYx4
Last edited by Wallingford on Mon Nov 04, 2013 4:32 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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John F
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Re: Monteux plays Sibelius score WITH ALTERED ENDING!

Post by John F » Mon Nov 04, 2013 12:58 am

That is strange. I've found an extended commentary on a Finnish web site that tells of a very complicated genesis for the piece, but mentions no alternative versions.

http://www.sibelius.fi/english/musiikki ... ntytar.htm

Monteux went to Finland on tour, sometime in the late '20s or early '30s (his wife's memoir is infuriatingly informal about such things), and after failing to meet Sibelius personally, he had a visit with Robert Kajanus. I suppose it's possible that Monteux might have received a different version of the score from Kajanus, but the biography gives no idea of what they talked about.

Monteux didn't record the piece commercially. The only piece by Sibelius that he did record was the 2nd symphony, though John Culshaw claims it was originally planned to be the 1st. We don't think of Monteux as one of those conductors who feel free to rewrite other composers' music, but if he didn't, who did?
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Re: Monteux plays Sibelius score WITH ALTERED ENDING!

Post by Heck148 » Mon Nov 04, 2013 9:34 pm

John F wrote:The only piece by Sibelius that he did record was the 2nd symphony, though John Culshaw claims it was originally planned to be the 1st.
The Monteux/LSO Sibelius #2 is a wonderful recording, perhaps my overall favorite.

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Re: Monteux plays Sibelius score WITH ALTERED ENDING!

Post by stenka razin » Tue Nov 05, 2013 9:20 pm

What a strange and unexpected ending. Someone must find out why one of the greatest conductors of the 20th century did not play the standard version. The ending is too abrupt and triumphant and distorts what Sibelius wanted. Very strange, indeed.


P.S. I am a lifelong Monteux advocate and cannot understand why he would mangle the end of Sibelius' beautiful work.


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Wallingford
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Re: Monteux plays Sibelius score WITH ALTERED ENDING!

Post by Wallingford » Thu Nov 07, 2013 9:46 pm

On the basis of what John said, there's a large part of me that wants to deny Monteux would've willfully altered the score....there may be some plausibility that Kajanus would've given him the supposed first edition, and that it may have been Sibelius' original ending. Then, too, Monteux might've gotten the piece way back when, and simply saw fit to use that edition.

If you were to compare the original ending to the Fifth Symphony with that of the familiar edition, you'd be knocked for a loop, too, for instance.
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Re: Monteux plays Sibelius score WITH ALTERED ENDING!

Post by stenka razin » Fri Nov 08, 2013 3:37 pm

Wallingford wrote:On the basis of what John said, there's a large part of me that wants to deny Monteux would've willfully altered the score....there may be some plausibility that Kajanus would've given him the supposed first edition, and that it may have been Sibelius' original ending. Then, too, Monteux might've gotten the piece way back when, and simply saw fit to use that edition.

If you were to compare the original ending to the Fifth Symphony with that of the familiar edition, you'd be knocked for a loop, too, for instance.

My friend, I totally agree about the original ending of the 5th Symphony. I can understand why Sibelius changed it and the results speak for themselves.


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John F
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Re: Monteux plays Sibelius score WITH ALTERED ENDING!

Post by John F » Fri Nov 08, 2013 3:51 pm

I've looked in several sources, including Tavastierna's biography, and there's no mention of an earlier version or any other alternate to the standard version. Monteux's ending, then, is not by Sibelius. By who? Still looking.
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Re: Monteux plays Sibelius score WITH ALTERED ENDING!

Post by RebLem » Fri Nov 08, 2013 4:56 pm

Heck148 wrote:
John F wrote:The only piece by Sibelius that he did record was the 2nd symphony, though John Culshaw claims it was originally planned to be the 1st.
The Monteux/LSO Sibelius #2 is a wonderful recording, perhaps my overall favorite.
The Monteux was the first recording of the 2nd that I ever bought, on the ole London Stereo Treasury budget label. It is indeed a wonderful performance, but this work has received extraordinarily good treatment on disc. We have lots of truly magnificent performances. Among my favorites are the Szell/Concertgebouw, the Barbirolli, and both the the Colin Davis versions as well as the Monteux.
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CharmNewton
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Re: Monteux plays Sibelius score WITH ALTERED ENDING!

Post by CharmNewton » Fri Nov 08, 2013 9:06 pm

Perhaps the ending was revised to ensure the work (or the program) didn't run over its allotted time.

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bigshot
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Re: Monteux plays Sibelius score WITH ALTERED ENDING!

Post by bigshot » Fri Nov 08, 2013 10:21 pm

Quite different than Kajanus's own recording...
http://www.vintageip.com/xfers/soundingsilence02.mp3

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Re: Monteux plays Sibelius score WITH ALTERED ENDING!

Post by John F » Sat Nov 09, 2013 5:42 am

CharmNewton wrote:Perhaps the ending was revised to ensure the work (or the program) didn't run over its allotted time.
Never. No conductor of any reputation would do any such thing for that reason. If there was a timing problem, a different piece would have been selected.

I've traced the source of the recording. It's from a 13-CD set titled "Sunday Evenings with Pierre Monteux," described as follows in a review on classical.net:
Raymond Tuttle wrote:Starting in the 1940s, Standard Oil of California sponsored a Sunday evening radio program called "This Hour is Yours," and it featured commercial-free live performances of orchestral music played by orchestras in San Francisco and Los Angeles.

Monteux participated in these programs until 1952, when he left his post in San Francisco. The music that he conducted tended to be more popular than one would often hear during a subscription concert, but by no means was it all of the lollipop variety. The only limitation imposed by Standard Oil was that no selection could be longer than 23 minutes. This, of course, ruled out the longer symphonies and concertos, for example, although individual movements sometimes were programmed.
http://www.classical.net/music/recs/rev ... 01192a.php

Actually, there are quite a few complete symphonies and a concerto in this set that must run longer than 23 minutes (no timings are given). Tuttle comments on each of the performances, but seems not to have noticed the odd ending of the Sibelius:
"Pohjola's Daughter" pulses with atmosphere and with sensitive orchestral playing; you'll seldom hear Sibelius's music sound more beautiful than this.
Curioser and curioser.

To bigshot: Thanks much for the link to Kajanus's recording, made with the London Symphony Orchestra for HMV's Sibelius Society series. Do you know of a link to Kajanus's 3rd symphony too? Much better played than the 5th, which comes unstuck in the fast ending of the first movement.
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Re: Monteux plays Sibelius score WITH ALTERED ENDING!

Post by CharmNewton » Sat Nov 09, 2013 12:26 pm

John F wrote:
CharmNewton wrote:Perhaps the ending was revised to ensure the work (or the program) didn't run over its allotted time.
Never. No conductor of any reputation would do any such thing for that reason. If there was a timing problem, a different piece would have been selected.
Isn't there a saying about "never saying never". :D

Here's part of a review of this set published in Fanfare (the full review is on the ArkivMusic web site). It concerns the recording of Schumann's Fourth Symphony.
Richard A. Kaplan wrote: ...A more extreme treatment is given the Schumann Fourth (on Disc 13; this is one choice I question, especially since Monteux made a complete commercial recording the same year—1952—and, a live 1961 performance has recently been issued by BBC Legends): rather than the c. 27-minute duration of those recordings, this version comes in at 22:26! All four movements are shorn of all repeats, and the tempos are, in places, almost cartoonish; it’s as if Monteux told the sponsor, “You want the complete Schumann Fourth in 20 minutes? Here’s what you’ll get!”
The Mitropoulos broadcast of Mahler's Third Symphony has cuts in every movement (so much so that it fits on a single CD) precisely to get it to fit within the allotted broadcast time.

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Re: Monteux plays Sibelius score WITH ALTERED ENDING!

Post by John F » Sat Nov 09, 2013 3:03 pm

If you're talking about Mitropoulos's New York Philharmonic performance of Mahler's 3rd, I haven't heard it but reviewers on amazon.com mention cuts and very fast tempos. Maybe Mitropoulos was so keen to have the symphony broadcast - for the first time in America - that he did what he had to in order to shoe-horn it into the CBS Radio time slot from 2:30 to 4:00 on Sunday afternoon. (For what it's worth, the 1960 recording from Cologne Radio is also notably fast.)

But Monteux was not Mitropoulos, and a performance of "Pohjola's Daughter" was not such a special event - there was no pressing need to include it in this particular program, or any program, if the timing wasn't right. It's still a mystery.
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Re: Monteux plays Sibelius score WITH ALTERED ENDING!

Post by bigshot » Sat Nov 09, 2013 3:08 pm

John F wrote:To bigshot: Thanks much for the link to Kajanus's recording, made with the London Symphony Orchestra for HMV's Sibelius Society series. Do you know of a link to Kajanus's 3rd symphony too? Much better played than the 5th, which comes unstuck in the fast ending of the first movement.
I wish I had more of the Sibelius Society record sets, but Pojohla, 5th and Tapiola are all I have.

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Re: Monteux plays Sibelius score WITH ALTERED ENDING!

Post by John F » Sat Nov 09, 2013 3:19 pm

Kajanus' "Tapiola" is amazing, isn't it? Of course the piece is amazing in its own right.
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Re: Monteux plays Sibelius score WITH ALTERED ENDING!

Post by Heck148 » Sat Nov 09, 2013 6:48 pm

RebLem wrote: The Monteux was the first recording of the 2nd that I ever bought, on the ole London Stereo Treasury budget label. It is indeed a wonderful performance, but this work has received extraordinarily good treatment on disc. We have lots of truly magnificent performances. Among my favorites are the Szell/Concertgebouw, the Barbirolli, and both the the Colin Davis versions as well as the Monteux.
In addition to Monteux, I like Toscanini/NBC, and Stokowski/NBC from 1954. Bernstein/NYPO is good too.

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