Sibelius Family Grant Permission to RSNO Musicians

Early Piano Quartet to be performed by RSNO Chamber Group will reveal composer’s classical tradition

A Scottish chamber group will perform a 19th century rarity from the predominantly 20th century composer Jean Sibelius this coming Sunday, after permission from the composer’s family was sought before the sheet music was released.

Sibelius and Strauss Piano Quartets at the New Auditorium, Glasgow Royal Concert Hall presents a chamber ensemble assembled from Royal Scottish National Orchestra (RSNO) musicians, violinists Sophie Lang and Lorna Rough, cellist Betsy Taylor and pianist Edward Cohen to air a rarely performed early work by Jean Sibelius, his Piano Quartet in D minor.

Unrecognisable when compared to his later, romantic works, the four movement quartet for two violins, cello and piano has been described as an accomplished pastiche of one of Mendelssohn’s Piano Trios. Those familiar with Sibelius’ soundscape may be surprised at the composers’ leaning towards a classical tradition at this time, this work composed when he was eighteen. Many composers had already found their voice by this age but it may surprise those familiar with his later expansive sound world to hear that he started off very much in the more contained, classical tradition.

RSNO Violin Sophie Lang: “We couldn't believe it was Sibelius when we started playing it! It sounds far more like Mozart, though there are glimpses in the harmonies of his later style. It's fascinating to see where he started, and to play off copies of the parts which we think were hand-written by him. They are full of inconsistencies, so rehearsals have been pretty pain-staking as we try and reconstruct what we believe he wanted, but that's actually made us feel closer to the composer. The parts were sent from the National Library of Finland after we had been granted permission to perform the work from the Sibelius family.”

The concert also features a performance of Richard Strauss’ early work, the substantial Piano Quartet in C minor, composed in the same year as Sibelius’ piano quartet, sixty years prior to Metamorphosen and reminiscent of the work of his idol, Johannes Brahms. The quartet will open the programme with a work by contemporary American composer Michael Daugherty, Diamond In the Rough, Daugherty’s nine-minute homage to Mozart.

Sibelius and Strauss Piano Quartets will appear at the New Auditorium, Glasgow Royal Concert Hall, on Sunday 5 February (2.30pm). Tickets cost £12.50 and are available from the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall box office (0141 353 8000). You can book online by visiting www.rsno.org.uk.