San Diego Union-Tribune
May 5, 2016
N.Y. Phil superb in local program
Sibelius’ ‘Finlandia’ brings audience to its feet
“In 1935, the New York Philharmonic held a poll to discover who listeners thought was the greatest composer. Bach, Brahms and Beethoven made the top 10, but above them all, in the No. 1 position, was Sibelius.
Wednesday evening that venerable orchestra and its conductor, Alan Gilbert, brought Sibelius and Beethoven to Jacobs Music Center’s Copley Symphony Hall.
The connection between Beethoven and Sibelius may seem odd — a number of patrons left the hall after the all-Beethoven first half, presumably to avoid hearing Sibelius’ Symphony No. 7 — but both composers were supreme symphonists and musical architects.
The British critic Cecil Gray, in 1931, went so far as to claim “Sibelius takes up music where Beethoven laid it down … it bears no trace whatever of the influence of the great romantic composers … His entire art … follows on straight from Beethoven, without any intermediary influence … Indeed there is less feeling of strangeness in passing from Beethoven to Sibelius than from Beethoven to Berlioz.””