1902 in Music

List of my music reviews of music published in 1902.

1. Jean Sibelius: Symphony No. 2 in D major, Op. 43 (10/10)

Sibelius’ second symphony is like quantum leap forward from his first. I really like the first one, but there’s a lot more going on here in this second one. It makes his first symphony sound almost simple by comparison. I think it has to be looked on as one of the great symphonies of its era, worthy of Mahler (if sounding nothing like Mahler).

2. Paul Dukas: Variations, Interlude and Finale on a Theme by Rameau (9/10)

These variations are a remarkable work – they walk a fine line between Romantic (perhaps even Classical) conservatism and the emerging modernism. Unlike much of the Romantic variations I am familiar with Dukas moves way far away from the theme. I detect hints of really late Romantic music here too, with the music straining to stay in key. He also drastically alters tempo, which is much more common.

Certainly a very remarkable work and hard to believe that it had fallen out of favour over the years.

3.Leoš Janáček: Jenůfa (9/10)

This is an opera where it’s probably for the best I can’t understand the words, given that it’s about infanticide.

The music is high Romantic, but infused with Janacek’s usual folk inspirations, including some idiosyncratic vocalizations and relative realism, as realism is always relative in operas – ‘realism’ such as the knocking on the door and the borderline talking. I particularly like the third act.

4. Alexander Glazunov: Ballade in F major for orchestra, op. 78 (8/10)

This is right up my alley: super bombastic for the fact that it is a ballad. And just very “Russian” (or very “Russian trying not to be “Russian”).

5. Charles Ives: Symphony No. 1 in D Minor (8/10)

The first symphony is Ives’ most traditional symphony, something that should not surprise us in the least. It still has echoes of his style but is, to my ears, remarkably Romantic (rather than modernist/post-modernist) compared to his later works.

6. Gabriel Faure: Nocturne No. 8 in D-flat major, Op. 84 (7/10)

The 8th Nocturne begins considerably more up tempo than his last few (at least more up tempo than their beginnings). It’s a more impressive work of playing, for sure, but I’m not sure it moves me quite as much as the earlier nocturnes.

8. Gabriel Faure: “8 Pieces breves”, Op. 84 (7/10)

This is a collection of really short pieces that Faure had written over his career and never intended to publish but apparently when the publisher insisted, Faure insisted they go together. They are literally all over the place and were packaged with the 8th Nocturne. It’s also really short

9. Erik Satie: Poudre d’or (7/10)

A pretty piece that suggests perhaps a bit more of a conservative approach despite its simplicity.

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