Musica2

On Stage

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Top class : Renée Fleming and Sakari Oramo at the Helsinki Festival

This evening's performance of Nielsen's Symphony No. 2 provided further evidence that the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra belongs in the top echelon of the world's great orchestras.  Sakari Oramo is currently Chief Conductor of the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra (RSPO) and is well-known to Finnish audiences from his tenure as Chief Conductor of the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra. This evening's performance gave Oramo an opportunity to showcase the RSPO to his hometown audience; the ...
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Finnish premiere of Esa-Pekka Salonen’s Cello Concerto

At least on this first hearing, Salonen's new Cello Concerto seemed confident and uncertain at the same time. This evening's concert marked the opening of Esa-Pekka Salonen's second season as Artist-in-Association with the Finnish National Opera and Ballet. It seemed only appropriate that the program literally played to all of Salonen's strengths: Ravel, Stravinsky, and of course, himself. The program began with a Ravel staple, Le Tombeau de Couperin. Immediately apparent from the opening moments was the effortless, ...
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Men and Women : Allan Pettersson’s Symphony No. 6 in ballet form

Men and Women by Antoine Jully, chief choreographer of the Oldenburg ballet, on Allan Pettersson's Symphony n°6 expresses a wide range of emotions between the genders. Jully's reflection of the composer's expressive world is impressive.  On the very surface, there does not seem to be much subtlety in Allan Pettersson or his music. Despite the music's highly expressive and emotional landscape and the composer's own colorful statements about himself and his world, for some listeners ...
Kostas Smoriginas, credit Monika Penkutė

Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 13 at Prague Spring

The Prague Philharmonic and Kühn choirs just might have stolen the show with their power, clear diction, and their ability to conjure up countless shades of color. There are certainly many approaches to putting together a program of orchestral music. Are the works selected based on a common theme or source of inspiration? From a common historical era? Or do the works greatly contrast from each other, giving the audience the ...
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Sakari Oramo in Elgar’s Symphony No. 2

Sakari Oramo did not hesitate in bringing Elgar's unabashedly passionate and emotional elements to the fore.  During his tenure as principal conductor of the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra (RSPO), Sakari Oramo has devoted considerable attention to the music of Anders Hillborg and Edward Elgar. In this evening’s performance, Oramo took the podium in front of his former band to showcase these composers. Hillborg’s Beast Sampler refers to the composer’s description of the ...
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Broadly : Kent Nagano in Bruckner’s Symphony No. 8

Nagano's performance of Bruckner's Symphony No. 8, while abundant in individual highlights, was not quite a fully convincing interpretation of this massive work. Anton Bruckner is arguably the perfect example of a composer whose music does not simply "play itself." Bruckner's symphonies are unhurried, majestic, imposing, and, of course, fervently religious. Only an interpreter who has considered these aspects carefully can successfully transform these lengthy works from seemingly protracted to transcendent. Against this backdrop, ...
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Exploring the depths : Osmo Vänskä in Sibelius’ Symphony No. 4

Osmo Vänskä is unrivaled in his ability (and willingness) to explore the deepest depths of Sibelius' Symphony No. 4.  Osmo Vänskä earned himself and his former band (the Lahti Symphony Orchestra) international recognition with his series of Sibelius and Kalevi Aho recordings. Authoritative performances of these two composers was expected from this evening's performance, and Vänskä and the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra did not disappoint. The program opened with one of the Estonian composer Arvo ...
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Truls Mørk’s noble Schelomo with the Helsinki Philharmonic

Truls Mørk brought nobility to Schelomo's lamenting qualities. The current, inaugural season of Susanna Mälkki's tenure as music director of the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra (HKO) is focused considerably on 20th-century French orchestral music, which has allowed both orchestra and conductor to develop and explore the unique sound palette of this repertoire. This evening's concert continued this trend, presenting colorful works from both the 20th and 21st centuries, from France and from elsewhere. Leevi Madetoja was ...
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Damrau & Grigolo in « Les Contes d’Hoffmann » at LA Opera

For her LA debut, Diana Damrau was scheduled (announced with great fanfare) to undertake the roles of Hoffmann’s three loves. Events, however, proved otherwise…  Therefore, a great disappointment ensued, especially when the soprano who finally opted for Antonia, appeared in Act III, exceedingly present and convincing, deeply involved and persuasive. Confronted with this stunning Antonia, who takes stage completely, with that soaring, powerful voice, a voice with perfectly placed high notes, ...
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Herbert Blomstedt in Sibelius and Beethoven

This was undoubtedly one of the great performances of Sibelius' Symphony No. 4. Herbert Blomstedt is approaching his 90th birthday and is showing no signs of slowing down. A quick look at his busy conducting schedule shows a deep commitment to the Austro-Germanic and Scandinavian repertoire, so expectations were naturally high in this evening's program of Sibelius and Beethoven. The program opened with the darkly introverted Symphony No. 4 by Sibelius. Based on this evening's account, ...
01.04.2017, Gewandhaus zu Leipzig, Mendelssohnsaal. ICMA Gala, Gruppenfoto © Gert Mothes

An Outstanding Event – ICMA Award Ceremony and Gala Concert at Leipzig’s Gewandhaus

Ten soloists, one chamber orchestra, one choir and a big symphony orchestra, plus the presence of nearly all the musicians winning the 2017 International Classical Music Awards. In his opening speech, the president of the ICMA jury, Remy Franck enthusiastically said: « Since the first edition of our awards in 2011, we never were able to welcome so many guests at an award ceremony as here in Leipzig! » And ...
Les ICMA annoncent l’événement classique de l’année

ICMA Announce Classic Event of the Year

Leipzig’s Gewandhaus will host on 1 April an outstanding classic event: ICMA's Gala Concert and Award Ceremony. For the first time in Germany, the International Classical Music Awards (ICMA), the only international Music Awards, will present at 8:00 pm an exceptional Gala concert with the Gewandhausorchester and conductor Francesco Angelico, Ensemble Esperanza, MDR Rundfunkchor and soloists Elena Bashkirova, Sharon Bezaly, Julia Fischer, Sophie Pacini, Elsa Dreisig, Chouchane Siranossian, Caroline Widmann, Tabea ...
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Details and the big picture: Christian Lindberg in Pettersson’s Symphony No. 5

In Petterson’s Symphony No. 5, Lindberg shaped and controlled the latent tension so effectively that the music felt deeply oppressive, almost suffocating in its intensity. Patience is definitely a virtue with regards to the Allan Pettersson symphony project on the record label BIS. This project began in the early 1990s with the Norrköping Symphony Orchestra (SON) under the direction of Leif Segerstam but was left incomplete. Following a long hiatus, the ...
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Susanna Mälkki and the Helsinki Philharmonic in Mahler’s Symphony No. 6

Throughout the first movement of Mahler's Symphony No. 6, careful attention was given to accents, articulations, and dynamics, along with a clear focus on orchestrational detail. Susanna Mälkki's recent performances with her new band, the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra, have generally presented a mix of the old and the new. While Mälkki might have a bit of a reputation as a new music specialist, she is equally at home in the great ...
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All-British with the Tapiola Sinfonietta and Janne Nisonen

After Sakari Oramo, Janne Nisonen could very well be the next great Finnish interpreter of British music.  Orchestral programs dedicated entirely to British music are rare in the Helsinki region, so this evening's concert of Adès, Britten, and Vaughan Williams likely gave many listeners the chance to explore this music for the first time. The program opened with Thomas Adès Three Studies from Couperin, a set of orchestrations of selected Couperin harpsichord works. ...
ICMA - Official Logo WINNER

The Winners of the International Classical Music Awards – ICMA 2017

The Jury of the International Classical Music Awards – ICMA today announced the winners for 2017. « The ICMA Jury comprises 16 leading media from 14 countries, having the most up to date knowledge of the classical music market. Our Jury is totally independent and international, and therefore provides reliable guidance to the global audience. This year, the jury selected 17 audio and video productions from a total of 321 nominations. The ...

Focus on Shakespeare : The Tempest by Osmo Vänskä in Helsinki

The performance  of The Tempest by Osmo Vänskä and the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra was a true celebration of some of Sibelius' most forward-looking music. The work of Shakespeare and his influence on the arts has received intense attention this year, the 400th anniversary of his death. On this evening's program, Osmo Vänskä and the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra presented two musical perspectives on Shakespeare by Finnish composers of the past and ...
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Death and Transcendencev : Robert Spano and the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra

Robert Spano led a taut and disciplined performance of Rachmaninoff's Isle of the Dead.  The subjects of death and the beyond have certainly fascinated many artists, both past and present. Among composers, one famous example would of course be Richard Strauss' Tod und Verklärung. In this evening's program, the American conductor Robert Spano led the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra in two Russian, romantic-era perspectives on death, concluding with Messiaen's transcendent L'ascension. Rachmaninoff's The ...
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Commitment and confidence: Lindberg and Pettersson’s Symphony No. 7

Under Lindberg's direction, Pettersson's massive Symphony No. 7 seemed like a single, unbroken arch. This perfomance also featured the world premiere of the unfinished Symphony n°17, 36 years after its composition. In recent years, Christian Lindberg and the Norrköping Symphony Orchestra (SON) have been tirelessly promoting, recording, and performing the music of Allan Pettersson, arguably Sweden's greatest composer of symphonies. In this evening's program, Lindberg and the SON presented one of Pettersson's most ...
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Sir Mark Elder in Britten and Shostakovich

Elder's performance of Britten's Sinfonia da Requiem could become a reference. There may not be many obvious stylistic similarities between the orchestral works of Benjamin Britten and Dmitri Shostakovich. Nevertheless, both composers sought to communicate immediately and directly with their audiences, while adhering to traditional concepts such as harmony, rhythm, and the symphony as a form. In this evening's program, Sir Mark Elder succinctly described these particular qualities in his opening remarks, before ...
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The Estonian National Symphony celebrates Gubaidulina

The Estonian National Symphony Orchestra performed two major works by Sofia Gubaidulina, in honor of the composer's 85th birthday. In the year 2016, Sofia Gubaidulina, one of the world’s greatest living composers, will celebrate her 85th birthday. In recognition of this occasion, the Estonian National Symphony Orchestra (ENSO) performed two of the composer’s recent large-scale works, including the world premiere of her oratorio Über Liebe und Hass (On love and hatred). ...
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Plácido Domingo as Macbeth at LA Opera

Plácido Domingo offers his Macbeth to the opera company he directs. This production of Macbeth will satisfy, even inspire, the most skeptical viewer. Darko Tresnjak (winner of 4 Tony awards and Broadway’s golden boy) is at work here, it’s true, with the help of Colin McGurk, on his own sets, often quite pertinent, often clever, flexible, and accommodating, readily manipulated and maneuvered, gloomy and foreboding, sinister (for the woods and battleground), ...
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Susanna Mälkki’s opening concert as Music Director of the Helsinki Philharmonic

Perhaps the most memorable part of this evening was the palpable sense of joy that was radiating from the stage. Readers of my reviews from Susanna Mälkki’s recent concerts with the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra (HPO) have probably noticed that I have not I been shy in my praise of her performances. Before getting into the details, I will say right now that this evening’s concert, Mälkki’s first as Music Director of the ...
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Salonen brings Chéreau’s Elektra to Helsinki

Soprano Evelyn Herlitzius brought the necessary vocal agility and endurance to this impossibly demanding role. Opera lovers in Finland have been eagerly waiting for Esa-Pekka Salonen to bring Patrice Chéreau's now famous production of Strauss' Elektra to the Helsinki. This current run of Elektra performances marks the first project for Salonen under his newly appointed position as Artist in Association of the Finnish National Opera and Ballet (FNOB). A soprano of near super-human ability is required for the ...
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Susanna Mälkki conducts the Helsinki Philharmonic in Sibelius and Prokofiev

Susanna Mälkki's recent programs with her future band, the Helsinki Philharmonic, have featured healthy portions of standard repertory. This is probably reassuring to the segment of the audience that might be apprehensive of Mälkki's reputation as a new-music specialist. Tonight's program of warhorses by two well-known composers not only demonstrated that Mälkki embraces the standard repertory, but also has something unique to say about it. The program opened with a Sibelius rarity, ...
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Big Success For ICMA Gala Concert In San Sebastian

The International Classical Music Awards (ICMA) organized their Award Ceremony and Gala Concert last week, April 1, at the nearly sold out Kursaal in Sebastian, where an audience of 1500 applauded the winners. The event was hosted by the Basque National Orchestra and San Sebastian Cultural Capital of Europe 2016. The Award Ceremony was presented by ICMA’s President Remy Franck, and awards were given to such artists as Dame Felicity Lott, ...
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The new Idomeneo at l’Opéra National du Rhin

The new Idomeneo at l’opéra national du rhin was entrusted to Christophe Gayral, already known at the house for Il matrimonio segreto and Owen Wingrave. In his conception it prefigured Die Zauberflöte, premiered a decade later: Ilia and Idamante were equated with Pamina and Tamino, Elettra with the Queen of the Night, and the final deus ex machina with Sarastro, though this Oracle had been physically present throughout and played ...
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Olari Elts conducts Ravel and Tüür

Frank Braley's performance was completely natural, effortless, and thoroughly integrated with both his musical and pianistic philosophy. The music of the Estonian composer Erkki-Sven Tüür is often performed in Helsinki, largely due to the regular podium presence of his compatriot Olari Elts. This evening's program featured Tüür's Symphony No. 8, coupled with works from Ravel. The program opened with Ravel’s Ma mère l’Oye. Right from the start one could appreciate the clarity of ...
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Christian Lindberg brings Pettersson to Antwerp

The Royal Flemish Philharmonic brought a palpable sense of commitment and confidence to Petterson’s music. In recent seasons Christian Lindberg has enjoyed a regular and fruitful collaboration with the Royal Flemish Philharmonic (RFP). Based on the results of this evening’s performance of two rarities and a warhorse, it is clear that deep sense of mutual trust and respect has developed between Lindberg and the orchestra. The first Swedish work on this ...
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Mikko Franck at home in Rautavaara, Prokofiev, and Debussy

I cannot imagine a better, more definitive performance of this music. Despite Mikko Franck's presence in the Helsinki music scene as both artistic and general director of the Finnish National Opera until 2013, in recent years he has been conspicuously absent from the podium of the main Helsinki orchestras. Based on this evening's performance, one certainly hopes that Franck will come back very soon. While I admit that my knowledge of Rautavaara's ...