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On Stage

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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 ...
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Happy 150th birthday, Jean Sibelius!

Without a doubt, this was one of the great En Saga performances.  It has certainly been a busy year for Finland’s favorite musical son. Although Sibelius’ is a regular fixture in the Finnish musical scene, this year has seen Sibelius-admiration taken to the next level (and beyond). Numerous complete symphony cycles, several competitions, books, a new documentary series, examinations of obscure works, seminars, museum exhibitions, you name it--if it has to do ...
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Finnish Independence Day Concert, edition 2015

Under Lintu's direction, the Finnish RSO played with their usual discipline and attention to detail. The annual Finnish Independence Day concert in the Helsinki Music Center is one of the major highlights of the Helsinki orchestral season. Every year, Helsinki audiences are treated to a "tasting menu" of Finnish orchestral music, featuring combinations of both new and old as well as familiar and unfamiliar. This year's concert showcased three generations of ...
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The Pettersson project continues: Christian Lindberg and the Norrköping Symphony

To play this music both passionately and convincingly is truly a massive achievement, and the Norrköping band under Lindberg’s direction have done it yet again. One could argue that there are countless composers in the classical music universe who have been unjustly neglected. The reasons for this are many; the composer is too unfamiliar, the music is too difficult to play, too difficult to conduct, or too difficult for the audience ...
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Dima Slobodeniouk conducts the Helsinki Philharmonic in Prokofiev’s second symphony

Dima Slobodeniouk's skillful direction and clear affinity for this music made this performance one of the major highlights of the current Helsinki concert season. Dima Slobodeniouk is currently Music Director of the Orquestra Sinfónica de Galicia in Spain and a regular presence in the Helsinki orchestral scene. On this evening's performance, Slobodeniouk led the Helsinki Philharmonic in a program of Harvey, Hummel, and Prokofiev. Opening the program was Jonathan Harvey's Tranquil Abiding, ...
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All-Finnish with John Storgårds and the Helsinki Philharmonic

Storgårds was able to find the elusive balance between presence and clarity. Music by living Finnish composers is an important part of programming for the Helsinki Philharmonic. While the "big three" composers Lindberg, Saariaho, and Salonen receive fairly regular performances, the Helsinki Philharmonic also ensures that lesser-known Finnish composers have their orchestral works performed in concert. On this evening's program, the Helsinki Philharmonic presented two new works by Finnish composers along ...
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All-Russian with Susanna Mälkki and the Helsinki Philharmonic

With Mälkki on the podium, the Helsinki Philharmonic has to be heard to be believed. The appointment of Susanna Mälkki as the next music director of the Helsinki Philharmonic has been met with an almost overwhelming sense of elation among Helsinki audiences. Nevertheless, there may be a sense of fear in some corners that contemporary music will be featured even more prominently with Mälkki on the podium. A brief review ...
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Original Sibelius and an Aho premiere: Hannu Lintu and the Finnish RSO

Sibelius is getting the royal treatment in his home country this year, as the music world celebrates the 150th birthday of the great composer. While performances of the usual suspects (the symphonies and the most popular tone poems) are found in abundance in Finland this year, the Finnish RSO has decided to take a different approach to the celebrations by presenting earlier versions of established masterpieces. At least based ...
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Osmo Vänskä at the Lahti Sibelius Festival

"One felt as though they could hear every detail in perfect balance." Although Finland is home to some of the world's greatest Sibelius interpreters and orchestras, the Sinfonia Lahti/Osmo Vänskä partnership is not only the most prolific but arguably the most enlightening. Vänskä's fanatical adherence to the score as well as his clear and searingly intense interpretations have won him deep respect in this repertoire. Not surprisingly, Vänskä's return to the ...
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Sibelius con gioia: Sakari Oramo and the Chamber Orchestra of Europe

"This was Sibelius writ large, played with joyful abandon" This year the music world celebrates the 150th birthday of Sibelius, and it should come as no surprise that fans of the great composer are spoiled for choice in Finland this year. Numerous complete symphony cycles, performances of early versions of established masterpieces, and the Sibelius violin competition are just some of the many highlights taking place this in Finland this year. Sibelius' ...
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Okko Kamu completes his Sibelius symphony cycle

Perhaps the most remarkable aspect of Kamu’s performance was his ability to make this arguably perfect work sound even more perfect. It should come as no surprise that lovers of Sibelius will find an embarrassment of riches in Finland this year, the 150th anniversary of the great composer’s birth. The Sinfonia Lahti has arguably done more for Sibelius’ recorded legacy than any other orchestra, and it seems only appropriate that this ...
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Inspired by Italy: John Storgårds conducts Mendelssohn and Sibelius

A sense of refinement permeated Storgårds interpretation of the opening movement. Italy has long been a source of inspiration for diverse composers both from the past and present. In this evening's program, conductor John Storgårds continued his season-long survey of the Sibelius symphonies, coupled with Mendelssohn's symphonic reflections on Italy. Mendelssohn's music is considered by many to be largely free of angst and conflict; his Symphony No. 4 (also known as his ...
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Francois-Xavier Roth conducts the Finnish RSO in all-Hungarian Program

Roth managed to find the elusive balance between rustic coarseness and refinement. Francois-Xavier Roth is a not a stranger to the Finnish RSO, having previously directed these forces in a varied and satisfying program of Mantovani, Eötvös, and Strauss. On this evening's concert, Roth returned with an all-Hungarian program featuring the music of Bartók and Kurtág. Based on the results, it is clear that his rapport with the orchestra has remained ...
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Big Success For ICMA Ceremony And Gala In Ankara

The International Classical Music Awards (ICMA) organized their Award Ceremony and Gala Concert, 28 March at the Bilkent Concert Hall in Warsaw, hosted by the Bilkent Symphony Orchestra conducted by Isin Metin. The Award Ceremony was presented by ICMA’s President Remy Franck, and awards were given to such artists as Dmitrij Kitajenko, Christian Tetzlaff, YuryRevich, Jodie Devos, Evgeny Koroliov, Xiao-Mei Zhu, Adam Fischer, Wu Wei, John Holloway, the Seoul Philharmonic, ...
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Celebrating Sibelius in his city of birth

Okko Kamu paired the composer’s darkest and most introspective symphony with his most valedictory.  The Sinfonia Lahti has probably done more for Sibelius’ recorded legacy than any other orchestra in the world. The orchestra also hosts the annual Lahti Sibelius Festival, which is one of the main highlights of the Finnish summer concert season. It seems only appropriate that during Sibelius’ 150th anniversary year the orchestra presents a complete symphony cycle ...
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Finnish premiere of Magnus Lindberg’s Second Piano Concerto

Nicolas Hodges brought a degree of refinement and grace to Lindberg's often percussive writing. Magnus Lindberg's tenure as composer-in-residence with the New York Philharmonic resulted in several new works, including his second piano concerto. Dedicated to Yefim Bronfman, the concerto was clearly conceived with Bronfman's imposing virtuosity in mind. Similar to the other works from Lindberg's New York tenure, the second piano concerto radiates with both exuberance and joy. One of the ...
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Isin Metin To Conduct 2015 Gala Concert With The Bilkent Symphony

The ICMA Gala Concert on March 28 in the magnificent Bilkent Hall in Ankara, Turkey, will be conducted by Isin Metin. He is conducting all the pieces with soloists. Three guest conductors, Dmitrij Kitajenko, Adam Fischer and Alexander Liebreich will also be part of the program.The Bilkent Symphony Orchestra was founded in 1993 as a unique artistic project of Bilkent University. Developed and managed by the Faculty of Music and ...
Osmo Vanska - credit Kaapo Kamu

Osmo Vänskä returns to the Helsinki Phil in an all-Prokofiev program

Over a decade has passed since Osmo Vänskä last appearance with the Helsinki Philharmonic. On this evening's concert, Vänskä conducted the Helsinki Philharmonic in a program of Prokofiev favorites. Osmo Vänskä began his career as an orchestral clarinetist, and served for several seasons as principal clarinet in the Helsinki Philharmonic. Since then, Vänskä has achieved fame as a conductor, particularly for his interpretations of Sibelius. Although Vänskä has returned to Helsinki ...

Patricia Kopatchinskaja plays Bartók with the Finnish RSO

Oramo's Helsinki appearances as guest conductor are eagerly anticipated and watching Kopatchinskaja's energetic and fearless playing is a visceral experience. In the case of Sakari Oramo and the Finnish RSO, it seems that absence truly makes the heart grow fonder. Since the conclusion of his tenure with the Finnish RSO in 2012, Oramo's Helsinki appearances as guest conductor have been eagerly anticipated. On this evening's performance, Oramo led his former band ...
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John Storgårds and the Helsinki Philharmonic open the Sibelius anniversary year

As an appropriate conclusion to his tenure as Chief Conductor of the Helsinki Philharmonic, John Storgårds will perform a complete cycle of the symphonies throughout 2015. This evening's program featured Sibelius' Symphony No. 1, along with works from Stravinsky and Martinsson. The Finnish musical world will be celebrating Sibelius in many ways in 2015, and performances of his symphonies will feature prominently in the schedules of most of the major Finnish orchestras. Although ...
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Barnabás Kelemen plays Bartók with the Helsinki Philharmonic

One of the most notable qualities of Bartók's work as a composer is his successful integration of traditional folk musics into a conventional Western classical music aesthetic. In this evening's performance, Bartók specialist Barnabás Keleman eloquently demonstrated these two sides in a selection of his countryman's music for violin and orchestra. Shostakovich's enigmatic Symphony No. 6 rounded out the program. The first half of the program featured two of Bartók's works for violin ...
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Susanna Mälkki conducts Saariaho with the Finnish RSO

Susanna Mälkki is currently the Chief Conductor designate of the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra, taking over from John Storgårds in autumn 2016. Based on the two sold-out performances of this program, music lovers in Helsinki might just be feeling a sense of eager anticipation around Mälkki these days. Mälkki's talents as a conductor were immediately apparent in the opening work, Debussy's Gigues. Rather than presenting Debussy's music as an impressionistic "wash" of sound, Mälkki's ...
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Saraste conducts the Helsinki Philharmonic in Dutilleux

Jukka-Pekka Saraste's continued advocacy for Henri Dutilleux has ensured that the French master's orchestral works receive regular performances by both the main Helsinki orchestras. This evening's concert featured Dutilleux's Métaboles, one of the composer's more frequently performed pieces, followed by works from Saint-Saëns and Bartók. This evening's performance of Métaboles benefited from Saraste's typical attention to detail and balance. While Saraste's conducting seemed particularly deliberate, the music never came across as pedantic ...
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Pekka Kuusisto’s guide to the Finnish violin, and more

Finnish violin music is undoubtedly dominated by the masterful Violin Concerto of Sibelius, one of the most performed and recorded concertos for the instrument. However, the violin also plays a very important role in traditional Finnish folk music, in particular the music played by fiddlers known as Pelimanni. In this evening's program, Pekka Kuusisto continued his close artistic collaboration with the Tapiola Sinfonietta, exploring the Finnish violin from these two perspectives.  The ...

ICMA 2015 : Save the Danish National Chamber Orchestra !

The Jury of the International Classical Music Awards has given the Award in the category Best Collection to the outstanding recording of the Mozart Symphonies with the Danish National Chamber Orchestra under the baton of Maestro Ádám Fischer, published by Dacapo. Jury president Remy Franck says: "These recordings show both the invigorating interpretation of Adam Fischer and the superb playing of the orchestra. The box is a magnificent, quite irresistibly enjoyable ...
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Salonen’s Karawane at the Finnish Independence Day Concert

It should come as no surprise that the Helsinki orchestras are fervent supporters of Finnish composers, but this advocacy is usually taken a step further with the annual Finnish Independence Day concert. Although Sibelius almost always makes an appearance, these concerts also showcase other Finnish composers, from the internationally known to those less frequently performed. The program opened with an extended tone poem composed by the Finnish jazz legend Heikki Sarmanto. ...

Closing concert of the Anders Hillborg festival

One of the highlights of the Stockholm concert season is the annual composer festival organized by the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra and the Stockholm Concert Hall. Each year's festival offers a series of concerts which focus almost exclusively on a single composer, giving audiences a unique opportunity to be fully immersed in the composer's universe. In its nearly 30 years of existence, the festival has featured some of the greatest composers ...
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ICMA Nomination List 2015 Is Available

The ICMA nomination list for 2015 is available. For the 2015 awards the Jury of the International Classical Music Awards (ICMA) has nominated 248 audio and video productions from 85 labels. The final result with the winners will be published January 20, 2015. The Award Ceremony and Gala concert will take place March 28 in Ankara, Turkey, with the Bilkent Symphony Orchestra conducted by Isin Metin
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All-Russian evening with the Helsinki Philharmonic

Shostakovich's Cello Concerto No. 1 is firmly established in the core repertoire of just about every cellist on the international circuit, and performances of this work are sufficiently frequent that one might take this masterpiece for granted. Perhaps this is the case, but it is likely that this work does strike at least some fear in the hearts of most cellists. Shostakovich demands near superhuman technical prowess and almost non-stop ...