This DVD celebrates the musical quest of one of the great symphonists of the twentieth century, Jean Sibelius, as seen through his music, his letters, his diaries and the words of his wife Aino, who was with him for more than sixty four years. It is an intimate account, using film and Sibelius’ music and words, of a great artist’s struggle with his medium, with the world and with himself – as deeply felt an artistic quest as any in the history of music and frequently expressed in memorably poetic terms.
“Nupen's quietly and seriously narrated survey takes a conservative path, chronologically, through the symphonies. Sensitively edited extracts from the symphonies, played by the Swedish Radio Orchestra under Vladimir Ashkenazy, and Nupen's own narrative, have as their backdrop the snow-covered pines, lakes and skies of the Finnish landscape.”
“…Nupen's… intention was… to tell the story of Sibelius's music, rather than his life, by letting the music do as much of the talking as possible. Hence the films feature long specially recorded stretches from several key Sibelius compositions which play undisturbed by narration. Brief clips of his precocious Water Drops and Kullervo aside, Nupen starts the musical journey with Finlandia, building through the symphonies, Violin Concerto and some songs and shorter works (including the broadcast on January 1, 1939, of Andante festivo, conducted by the composer). Although one might wish for this or that piece to figure, Nupen's selections of music are entirely apposite to his purpose. Even for those with a detailed knowledge of the composer, the filming of key locations around Finland, from Sibelius's notorious Helsinki drinking haunt, the Kämp Hotel, to Ainola, plus archival footage of the composer, with be an attraction.”