Jean Sibelius was Finland's national composer not just because he wrote the de facto national anthem (Finlandia), but because in his music he captured the essence of his country as he experienced it. His moving Symphony No. 5 was commissioned by the state to honor his own 50th birthday -- how's that for pressure? -- and remains his most personally rewarding work. As invigorating as a long winter walk in the woods, as haunting as confronting the endless sky, the Fifth is a guaranteed tear-jerker simply because at some point it must end. But what an ending: the horns swoop in and out of the orchestra, then fall quiet with a series of full orchestral blasts punctuated with vistas of silence. Hannu Lintu conducts the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra through Sibelius' Finlandia and Symphony No. 5, as well as Prokofiev's Piano Concerto No. 3, at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday (February 1 and 2) at Powell Symphony Hall (718 North Grand Boulevard; 314-534-1700 or www.slso.org). Tickets are $30 to $108.
Fri., Feb. 1; Sat., Feb. 2, 2013