Jean Sibelius

Symphony No. 7 in C major, Op. 105

    Description by Robert Cummings

    Sibelius originally intended his Seventh Symphony to be in three movements, but in the end fashioned it into a single movement. It is cast in four distinct sections, however: a substantial opening Adagio is followed by a scherzo-like section, and then another, larger scherzo (which may have been spawned by the "Hellenic Rondo" idea that Sibelius had originally spoken of in regard to this work), and finally a recall of materials from the Adagio section. Initially entitled "Fantasia sinfonica," the work was subsequently restored to its status of symphony by the composer and would serve as his last foray in this genre.

    The Seventh Symphony came as the climax of a lifetime's work for Sibelius. His ongoing search for new formal procedures that began with his Second Symphony reaches its acme in this sweeping, motivically concentrated and highly integrated work, containing elements of both sonata form and of rondo form. While many scholars have attempted to come up with different ways to classify the Seventh, it is a futile mental exercise to fit the work into traditional formal schemes, so complete is Sibelius' mastery of transition and control of simultaneous tempos.

    The Adagio begins darkly, the strings rising from their bass range but soon reaching brighter terrain as motivic bits are assembled and the main thematic material begins to unfold. Soon a somewhat somber passage begins in the lower strings, building slowly and taking on an increasingly passionate manner, culminating in a powerfully epiphanic declaration, where strings soar and then trombones gloriously resound the symphony's main theme. The Adagio section ends in a relatively subdued and bright mood.

    The scherzo-like section begins almost seamlessly, evolving subtly out of the Adagio's closing material. The tempo gradually quickens and the music works up a dark intensity, but the resulting mood is generally playful and light in the first half, but menacing in the latter portion, where churning strings incite the orchestra to a torrent that culminates in a recall of the Adagio's trombone theme, now given a more somber treatment. The ensuing section is playful and lighter, but also develops some tension in its middle portion. The scoring here is fairly light and the tempo markings, Allegro molto moderato/Poco a poco meno moderato, come across as leisurely, but not brisk or driven.

    Early on, the final section features another statement of the trombone theme, which is now confident and overpowering in its sense of triumph. The music thereafter moves from an angelic, almost rapturous passage for mostly unaccompanied strings toward near-stasis, before finally building from quivering strings to a resounding, all-conquering conclusion. This symphony typically has a duration of between 20 and 25 minutes.

    Parts/Movements

    1. Adagio
    2. Un pochettino meno adagio-Vivacissimo-Adagio
    3. Allegro molto moderato
    4. Vivace-Presto-Adagio

    Appears On

    Year Title Label Catalog #
    2016 ABC Classics 4812521
    2016 LSO Live LSO 0675
    2016 BIS BIS 2006
    2016 Praga / Praga Digitals PRD 350106
    2016 Hallé HLL 7543
    2016 DG Deutsche Grammophon 4795553
    2015 Warner Classics 2564605317
    2015 Swedish Society Discofil SCD 1161
    2015 DG Deutsche Grammophon B002362202
    2015 Linn Records CKD 462
    2015 Warner Classics 2564619878
    2015 BIS BIS 2076
    2015 Sony Classical 88875026142
    2015 Warner Classics 552758
    2014 Chandos CHAN 108093
    2014 RCA Red Seal 88843006072
    2013 Entertainment Group 6122
    2013 EMI Classics
    2013 EMI Classics / Warner Classics 5099997360
    2013 Brilliant Classics 9439
    2013 ASO Media ASO 1004
    2013 DG Deutsche Grammophon
    2012 DG Deutsche Grammophon 002894770055
    2012 Entertainment Group 107242
    2012 Decca 4783696
    2012 Decca
    2012 Warner Classics
    2012 Erato 2564662795
    2012 Decca / DG Deutsche Grammophon
    2012 Melodiya MYD 1001669
    2011 Alto / Musical Concepts 132
    2011 EMI Classics / Warner Classics 5099990724
    2011 Naxos 8572705
    2011 EMI Classics
    2011 BIS 1933/35
    2010 Sony Classical 8869768365
    2010 ABC Classics 4763943
    2010 Exton 293
    2010 Exton 00293
    2010 Denon Records
    2010 ABC Classics 4763945
    2009 LSO Live 191
    2008 Brilliant Classics 8867
    2008 Guild 2341
    2008 PentaTone Classics 5186177
    2008 EMI Classics 09693
    2008 EMI Music Distribution 63400
    2008 EMI Classics 5096922
    2008 EMI Classics / Warner Classics 5099951203
    2007 Scandinavian Classics 220507
    2007 DG Deutsche Grammophon
    2007 EMI Classics / Warner Classics 5099950075
    2007 DG Deutsche Grammophon 000956502
    2006 RCO / RCO Live 06004
    2006 Edel Classics 2342
    2006 Ondine 1075
    2006 EMI Music Distribution / Warner Classics 7243476951
    2006 Erato
    2006 Universal Classics & Jazz
    2006 Decca 000689202
    2006 BIS 1697/1700
    2005 LPO LPO0005
    2005 LSO Live 552
    2005 EMI Classics
    2005 EMI Classics
    2005 DG Deutsche Grammophon 000531936
    2004 DG Deutsche Grammophon 000218302
    2004 Fazer / Finlandia
    2004 LSO Live 51
    2004 Silverline Classics 288263
    2004 Delos 3334
    2004 RCA Victor 55706
    2003 Naxos 8557238
    2003 Vanguard Classics 1202
    2003 DG Deutsche Grammophon 474 353-2
    2003 Erato 4602942
    2003 EMI Classics
    2003 Erato 7491442
    2003 Sony Music Distribution 87329
    2003 Decca 000121902
    2002 Brilliant 6328
    2002 Sony Classical 87882
    2002 Brilliant Classics 6899
    2002 Ondine 1007
    2002 Naxos 505179
    2001 EMI Music Distribution 66602
    2001 History 205259
    2001 Philips 464740
    2001 BIS 1286/8
    2000 EMI Music Distribution / Warner Classics 7243567299
    2000 BBC Music 4041
    2000 Decca 466995
    2000 Naxos 8 554387
    2000 Dutton Vocalion 1018
    1999 DG Deutsche Grammophon 457748
    1999 Denon Records 17033
    1998 D Classics HR703862
    1998 Finlandia 17278
    1998 London 455 405-2DF2
    1998 Sony Music Distribution 63366
    1997 Biddulph Recordings WHL029/30
    1997 Dutton Laboratories 8013
    1996 EMI Music Distribution 568646-2
    1996 BIS 864
    1996 Berlin Classics 0092812
    1996 Chandos 7054
    1995 Music & Arts 841
    1995 Melodiya 25191
    1995 Finlandia 99962-2
    1995 Philips 446160
    1995 Melodiya 25189
    1994 Sony Music Distribution 53509
    1994 Berlin Classics 0020592
    1994 BIS 311
    1994 BIS 622
    1993 Sony Classical 52566
    1993 Ondine ODE809-2
    1993 Naxos 504002
    1993 Pearl 9408
    1993 Sony Music Distribution SM2K-47622
    1992 Chandos 6559
    1992 Decca
    1991 Naxos 550198
    1991 Chandos CHAN6557
    1991 EMI Music Distribution 641222
    1991 EMI Music Distribution 764118-2
    1991 London 430778
    1989 DG Deutsche Grammophon 427647
    BBC Legends 4039
    ClassCD 115
    Beulah 1PD8
    EMI Music Distribution 63464
    Chandos 9055
    History 205264
    EMI Music Distribution 751182A
    Russian Revelation 10006
    D Classics 703912
    DG Deutsche Grammophon 415107
    Brilliant 6328/4
    BBC Music Magazine 283
    Warner Music
    RCA 60575
    RCA Victor Red Seal 68312
    EMI Music Distribution 76883
    Classico 115
    Intaglio 717
    Enterprise 4103
    Finlandia 99963
    EMI Music Distribution 574485-2
    Vanguard 3133
    Olympia (Classical/Jazz) 223
    EMI Music Distribution 65915