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ous and advantageous strategy. In most cases, it was also quite usual to publish songs in several languages at once, including Swedish and Finnish with two or three translations for singing, including German and sometimes English or French. In Sibelius’s lifetime there was no taboo about singing songs in translation; in fact, it was normal to sing songs in the language of the audience, not that of the composer. Today, we have gone to the opposite extreme, with most singers mastering foreign languages in order to sing songs in the original — and audiences left to find a balance between following the printed text/translations while also watching the singers’ expressions and delivery. In recent years, some recitalists have experimented with singable translations again, which can be a wonderful experience, since audiences often respond more sharply to the emotional slant of a song when the words are, so to speak, their own. Neither approach is necessarily right or wrong, but provide different kinds of experiences for audiences and performers alike. For this week’s Cleveland Orchestra concerts, we hear a selection of Sibelius’s songs sung in Finnish, Swedish, and German. His choice of verses was always within the sphere of romantic lyrics, and the fact that the majority of his songs overall were settings of Swedish suggests that he relied on poetry he had known since childhood. All Sibelius’s songs were written with piano accompaniment, but many have been orchestrated by different arrangers. Seven of these arrangements make up this week’s selections. One other, “Kom nu hit, död!” [“Come Away, Death!] Sibelius originally set for guitar or piano, and then, in the very last year of his life, arranged it himself for harp and strings. SELECTED SONGS

Kaiutar [The Echo Nymph] and Illalle [To Evening] are both settings of Finnish, the first from 1915, the second from 1898. Kaiutar was written for the Finnish soprano Aino Aikté, for whom Sibelius also wrote the symphonic poem with solo voice, Luonnatar. This is a dramatic lyric, with an opportunity for the nymph’s echoes to be built into the setting. Illalle is a setting of a Finnish sonnet, in which the shimmering accompaniment comes down from the heights only for the last few lines of the poem. Aus banger Brust [From an Anxious Heart] is by the German

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About the Music

The Cleveland Orchestra

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The Cleveland Orchestra May 23-25, May 30- June 1 Concerts  

May 23-25 Sibelius & Strauss May 30- June 1 An American in Paris

The Cleveland Orchestra May 23-25, May 30- June 1 Concerts  

May 23-25 Sibelius & Strauss May 30- June 1 An American in Paris

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