Per­fect de­liv­ery

Com­poser Jean Si­belius’ works have rarely re­ceived an air­ing in these parts, but a re­cent show at de­wan Fil­har­monik Petronas was a truly wel­come ex­pe­ri­ence.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - ARTS - By CHRISTY YOONG en­ter­tain­ment@thes­

LOOK­ING back, it is strange that one of the ear­li­est classical com­posers I en­coun­tered was Jean Si­belius (1865-1957). Af­ter all, the line from early in­ter­ests like Vi­valdi and Beethoven to the Fin­nish com­poser is sep­a­rated by cen­turies and is hardly a straight one.

He was a man of con­tra­dic­tions: a cul­tural am­bas­sador for his coun­try, where he is revered, yet he rarely strayed out­side his door. Si­belius was a per­fec­tion­ist – he ap­par­ently burned his fi­nal sym­phony be­cause he didn’t think it was good enough – who also wrote an alarm­ing amount of trite mu­sic.

He was also a failed vir­tu­oso vi­o­lin­ist who, nev­er­the­less, wrote one of the great­est vi­olin con­cer­tos. And, in the modern age, he is prob­a­bly about as fa­mous as the com­puter score-writ­ing pro­gram that bears his name.

Yet, when he was good, Si­belius was very good: from the very be­gin­ning, I was drawn to his dreamy, bleak land­scapes, the gor­geous melodies and the mu­sic’s deep pathos, and re­main haunted by it to this day.

While his record­ings oc­cupy a large space on my shelves, I have rarely heard Si­belius in the con­cert hall, which is also one of my pet peeves with De­wan Fil­har­monik Petronas. Ev­ery year, as soon as a new sea­son’s pro­gramme is pub­lished, I would search for Si­belius and, usu­ally, end up dis­ap­pointed.

He has, of course, been fea­tured in the DFP be­fore, but his ap­pear­ances have been few and far be­tween. This new 2011/12 sea­son, how­ever, DFP sur­prised me by grant­ing one of my most fer­vent

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