Jean Sibelius’ impressionistic tone poem, The Dryad (Dryaden), Op. 45, No. 1, is magical and fleeting. It begins with hushed, searching melodic strands which seem to drift over a dark, desolate, and frigid nordic landscape before coalescing into a high-spirited dance. At moments, the woodwinds erupt in cackling laughter and shrieks of merriment. Tonal colors capture the shimmering brilliance of sunlight on snow. The wood nymphs, upon which the piece is based, come out to play and then dissolve into the landscape as apparitions.
Sibelius composed this music in between skiing trips in February of 1910. It was premiered eight months later in Oslo. This 2002 recording features the Finnish conductor, Osmo Vänskä, and the Lahti Symphony Orchestra:
- Sibelius: Dryaden (the Dryad) , Op. 45, No. 1, Osmo Vänskä, Lahti Symphony Orchestra Amazon
Featured Image: a birch forest in Finland, photograph by SeppVei