As the first Finnish violinist ever, the phenomenal Pekka Kuusisto won first prize in the prestigious Sibelius Competition in 1995. It was also the start of his international solo career. Here we meet him as a soloist together with Santtu-Matias Rouvali and the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra in two works: Thomas Adès’ fresh Märchentänze (‘Dances from Fairytale’) for violin and orchestra and Vaughan Williams’ both melancholy and joyful The Lark Ascending. Sibelius’ fascinating and enigmatic Symphony No. 4 concludes the concert.
Pekka Kuusisto’s artistry is inspiring and innovative. Some of you may have already witnessed him during the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra’s moon landing concert in the autumn of 2019, when he was projected on the surface of the moon while playing. Here’s an example of his personal and heartfelt relationship with music and his fellow musicians.
Vaughan Williams’ floating idyll The Lark Ascending has its roots in English folk music; nature poetry and ethereal beauty side by side with rural dance rhythms.
The latter source is also explored by the Englishman Thomas Adès in his Märchentänze (“Fairy Tale Dances”) whose four movements are inspired by English folk tunes. The movement A Sky Lark is a collage of lively birdsong where the orchestral instruments’ imitations sing freely with the soloist. The impression is of an “exaltation” of skylarks, as can be heard in the hills and fields of England in the spring”.
The concert rounds off with Sibelius’ fourth symphony, and here we enter historic ground. The symphony has been on the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra’s repertoire for over 100 years, and the orchestra has gained insights from its highest authority: the composer himself. In 1915, he conducted the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra at a performance in the Concert Hall at Heden: “The joy of playing under the personal guidance of the genius composer, and interpreting his rich and interesting compositions, created a great urge in the playing and an animated eagerness to stretch all limits, which also resulted in extremely beautiful achievements.”
This tradition is kept alive with the orchestra’s chief conductor Santtu-Matias Rouvali, who with the enigmatic and moving fourth symphony continues his journey through the composer’s symphonies. A recording is being made by French Alpha Classics, whose previous Sibelius editions have been hailed by the international press.
No introduction to the concert
In the autumn of 2021, we will not give any introductions to the concerts due to the pandemic. Comments on the current programme for this particular concert can be found in connection with the names of the works under the heading Programme on this page (in swedish). You will get even more angles and keys to classical music in the concert magazine Podiet (in swedish) and the lecture series Classical Curiosities at GSOplay (in english).
Vaughan Williams THE LARK ASCENDING, ROMANCE FOR VIOLIN AND ORCHESTRA
Sibelius Symphony No 4
The Gothenburg Symphony, called "one of the world's most formidable orchestras" by the Guardian, has toured the USA, Europe, Japan and the Far East and performed at major music centres and festivals throughout the world. Chief conductor is Santtu-Matias Rouvali who started his tenure in 2017. Barbara Hannigan and Christoph Eschenbach are principal guest conductors since 2019.
Already at the orchestra's very first years, the great Swedish composer Wilhelm Stenhammar was appointed principal conductor, contributing strongly to the Nordic profile of the orchestra by inviting his colleagues Carl Nielsen and Jean Sibelius to conduct their own works. Subsequent holders of the post include Sergiu Comissiona, Sixten Ehrling and Charles Dutoit. During Neeme Järvi's tenure (1982-2004), the orchestra became a major international force. In 1997 it was appointed the National Orchestra of Sweden. During his celebrated tenure as music director (2007-2012), Gustavo Dudamel took the Orchestra to major music centres and festivals in Europe, making acclaimed appearances at BBC Proms and Vienna Musikverein.
The list of prominent guest conductors has included Wilhelm Furtwängler, Pierre Monteux, Herbert von Karajan, Myung-Whun Chung, Herbert Blomstedt and Sir Simon Rattle. The orchestra also runs extensive concert projects for children, and regularly releases digital live concerts free on gsoplay.se. The orchestra has been involved in many prestigious recording projects, the latest one the complete Sibelius Symphonies with Santtu-Matias Rouvali for Alpha Classics. Earlier, the orchestra has issued over 100 recordings on BIS, Deutsche Grammophon, Chandos, Farao Classics and several other labels. The Gothenburg Symphony is owned by the Region Västra Götaland.
Santtu-Matias Rouvali Conductor
Hailed by The Guardian as "the latest sit-up-and-listen talent to emerge from the great Finnish conducting tradition," the 2018/19 season will see Santtu-Matias Rouvali continuing his positions as Chief Conductor of the Gothenburg Symphony and Principal Guest Conductor of the Philharmonia Orchestra, alongside his longstanding Chief Conductor-ship with the Tampere Philharmonic Orchestra close to his home in Finland.
Rouvali has regular relationships with several orchestras across Europe, including the Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra, Bamberger Symphoniker and the Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin. As well as making his debut with the Münchner Philharmoniker this season, he also returns to North America for concerts with the Minnesota Orchestra and Detroit Symphony Orchestra.
Following a very successful Nordic tour with Hélène Grimaud last season, the Gothenburg Symphony is back on the road in February 2019 for a tour hitting major centres in Germany and Austria with pianist Alice Sara Ott, and percussionist Martin Grubinger who premieres a new percussion concert by Daníel Bjarnason. Rouvali looks forward to other ambitious touring projects with his orchestras in the future, including appearances in North America and Japan.
In addition to the extensive tour, Rouvali's season in Gothenburg opens with Strauss' Alpine Symphony accompanied by Víkingur Ólafsson Mozart Piano Concerto No.24, and he looks forward to collaborations with Janine Jansen, Patricia Kopatchinskaja and Baiba Skride throughout the rest of the season.
As another cornerstone to his tenure in Gothenburg, he is adding his mark to the Orchestra's impressive recording legacy. In partnership with Tampere Philharmonic Orchestra and violinist Baiba Skride, a recording featuring concertos from Bernstein, Korngold and Rozsa is released in autumn 2018.This continues his great collaboration with Baiba Skride following their hugely successful recording of Nielsen and Sibelius' violin concertos with the Tampere Philharmonic Orchestra in summer 2015.
Rouvali has been Artistic Director and Chief Conductor of the Tampere Philharmonic Orchestra since 2013. Highlights of the tenure so far include a Sibelius symphony cycle in autumn 2015, and the Orchestra's first tour to Japan in spring 2017 where they were accompanied by an exhibition of original Moomin drawings by Tove Jansson to mark the opening of the new museum at the Tampere Hall. He opens the 2018/19 season with a Beethoven programme with pianist Javier Perianes.
Alongside an extremely busy symphonic conducting career, as Chief Conductor in Tampere he has conducted Verdi's La forza del destino and most recently world premiere of Olli Kortekangas's My Brother's Keeper (Veljeni vartija) with Tampere Opera in spring 2018.
Pekka Kuusisto Violin
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