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 / Performer Label / Catalog # AllMusic Rating
    2020
    Berliner Philharmoniker
    BPHR 150072
    2019
    RCA Red Seal
    G0100040237083
    2019
    RCA Red Seal
    19075924512
    2018
    Decca / Deutsche Grammophon
    4798418
    2018
    Linn Records
    CKR 462
    2017
    ABC Classics
    2017
    Warner Classics
    9029586915
    2017
    ABC / ABC Classics
    2016
    LSO Live
    LSO 0675
    2016
    BIS
    BIS 2006
    2016
    ABC Classics
    4812521
    2016
    Praga / Praga Digitals
    PRD 350106
    2016
    Hallé
    HLL 7543
    2016
    Deutsche Grammophon
    4795553
    2015
    Warner Classics
    2564605317
    2015
    Swedish Society Discofil
    SCD 1161
    2015
    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 / Warner Classics
    5099997360
    2013
    EMI Classics
    2013
    EMI Classics / Warner Classics
    5099998470
    2013
    Brilliant Classics
    9439
    2013
    Finlandia
    530101
    2013
    ASO Media
    ASO 1004
    2013
    Deutsche Grammophon
    2012
    Deutsche Grammophon
    002894770055
    2012
    Entertainment Group
    107242
    2012
    Decca
    4783696
    2012
    Decca
    2012
    Erato
    2564662795
    2012
    Warner Classics
    2012
    Decca / 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
    00293
    2010
    Exton
    293
    2010
    Denon Records
    2010
    ABC Classics
    4763945
    2009
    LSO Live
    191
    2008
    Brilliant Classics
    8867
    2008
    Guild
    2341
    2008
    PentaTone Classics
    5186177
    2008
    EMI Music Distribution
    63400
    2008
    EMI Classics
    5096922
    2008
    EMI Classics
    09693
    2008
    EMI Classics
    2008
    EMI Classics / Warner Classics
    5099951203
    2007
    Scandinavian Classics
    220507
    2007
    Deutsche Grammophon
    2007
    EMI Classics / Warner Classics
    5099950075
    2007
    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
    Decca
    000689202
    2006
    Universal Classics & Jazz
    2006
    BIS
    1697/1700
    2005
    London Philharmonic Orchestra / LPO
    LPO0005
    2005
    EMI Classics
    2005
    EMI Classics
    2005
    Deutsche Grammophon
    000531936
    2004
    Deutsche Grammophon
    000218302
    2004
    Fazer / Finlandia
    2004
    LSO Live
    51
    2004
    LSO Live
    LSO 0552
    2004
    Silverline Classics
    288263
    2004
    Delos
    3334
    2004
    RCA Victor
    55706
    2003
    Naxos
    8557238
    2003
    Vanguard Classics
    1202
    2003
    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
    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
    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
    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