Sir Simon Rattle conducts Sibelius and Janáček

London Symphony Orchestra

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Program notes

The sensational Sir Simon Rattle conducts the London Symphony Orchestra in a stunning performance of Janáček’s Sinfonietta and Sibelius’s Symphony No. 5 in E-flat Major.

The first performance of Janáček’s Sinfonietta took place in 1926 in Prague, as a commemoration of the newly liberated Czechoslovakia. Commissioned by the organizers of the Sokol Gymnastic Festival, the work introduces an original fanfare motif which recurs in multiple variations. The composer’s progressive style shines through the piece, as upbeat themes reminiscent of Eastern European folk music pass around the orchestra. Triumphant, expressive, and exultant, Janáček’s Sinfonietta marks a true celebration of humanity and its strength.

“For an instant, God opens his door and His orchestra plays the Fifth Symphony”, wrote Finnish composer Jean Sibelius in a letter, acknowledging the grandiose character of his own Symphony No. 5 in E-flat Major. This striking composition sees the composer relaxing his symphonic “severity of form”, in favor of a more Mahlerian, all-embracing approach that watches the evolution of musical material through gentle repetition. A radiant start gives way to a majestic orchestral theme and eventually flows into the famous swan motif (49:03) and the jubilant finishing chords of the finale, making Sibelius’s Fifth Symphony a true musical journey.

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