Mot-clef : Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra

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Osmo Vänskä’s Americana with the Helsinki Philharmonic

Soloist Jonathan Roozeman handled Barber's fearsome technical demands with ease, particularly the seemingly inhuman left-hand acrobatics required in the outer movements.  One of the highlights of the current Helsinki Philharmonic season is the focus on American composers, giving Helsinki audiences the opportunity to sample repertoire infrequently performed in this corner of the world. Samuel Barber's music is firmly established in the American repertoire and was represented with his early First Symphony and wartime Concerto for ...
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In Helsinki, Mälkki’s cool-headed intensity in Mahler’s No. 9

Susanna Mälkki's take on Mahler's final completed masterpiece focused on tight control coupled with clear, unsentimental intensity. Nearing the end of her second year as music director of the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra, Susanna Mälkki has explored a broad range of repertoire, from warhorses to challenging contemporary fare. Mahler’s Symphony No. 9 is one of the great monuments of the symphonic literature, and the work’s forbidding technical and emotional challenges are the ...
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Passionate and virtuosic : Tianwa Yang in Britten’s Violin Concerto

Yang brought a devilish and almost unhinged quality to the dancing second movement of Britten's Violin Concerto, which further highlighted her amazing virtuosity. The current Helsinki season has been almost an embarrassment of riches for lovers of Britten's Violin Concerto. Several weeks ago, Helsinki audiences were treated to Vilde Frang's arguably definitive and breathtaking account of this masterpiece with the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra. Expectations were naturally high to hear Tianwa Yang's ...
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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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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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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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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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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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Homecoming: Susanna Mälkki, Chief Conductor Designate of the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra

"The most essential thing is to keep the musical standards very high" ResMusica: You began your professional career as one of the principal cellists of the Gothenburg Symphony--one of the top orchestral cello positions in Scandinavia if not Europe. However, after only three years you decided to pursue conducting full-time. Did you always aspire to be a conductor, or did other events inspire you to take your current path? Susanna Mälkki: Actually, the ...
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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 ...
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 ...
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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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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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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 ...
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Alexander Kniazev performs Miaskovsky’s Cello Concerto

The mid-twentieth century cello concerto is dominated by two great Russian works: the Sinfonia Concertante of Prokofiev and the first cello concerto of Shostakovich. Both works feature fiendishly difficult solo parts and place the soloist in the traditional concerto role of hero or protagonist. On this concert, the Russian cellist Alexander Kniazev presented the infrequently performed cello concerto of Miaskovsky, demonstrating its worthiness as a viable alternative to the Prokofiev ...
Kari Kriikku Photo: Marco Borggreve

Kari Kriikku plays Saariaho’s clarinet concerto

For such a small country, Finland can easily boast having at least four living composers with major international careers: Saariaho, Magnus Lindberg, Salonen, and Aho. Of these, Saariaho is arguably the most widely performed throughout the world. Saariaho's clarinet concerto "D'om le vrai sens" was premiered in 2010 with the Finnish RSO in the acoustically inferior Finlandia Hall, and this evening's concert gave Helsinki audiences another chance to sample this ...
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Gita Kadambi, General Manager of the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra

"We are not restricting our “search” for our future conductor to Finland only" ResMusica: You have just recently been appointed general manager of the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra. Please tell us a little about your background and how you ended up in this position. Gita Kadambi: I’ve done my Masters in Music both in Helsinki and London (Music Education, Sibelius Academy, Music Performance, London College of Music). I started my career as a ...
Christian Tetzlaff

Christian Tetzlaff plays Shostakovich second violin concerto

While the first violin concerto of Shostakovich is firmly established in the 20th-century violin repertoire, performances of his second violin concerto are considerably less frequent. Perhaps this is due to the latter work's more introverted stance, its greater depth of emotion, and its bitter and sometimes vulgar sarcasm. Christian Tetzlaff was the soloist in tonight's performance, and, as expected, he displayed complete control over the solo part. One noticeable aspect of ...