- Notable Recordings of 2019: Olga Neuwirth, “ . . .miramondo multiplo . . . ,” “Remnants of Songs,” “Masaot / Clocks without Hands”; Ingo Metzmacher conducting the Gustav Mahler Youth Orchestra, with Håkan Hardenberger; Susanna Mälkki conducting the ORF Radio Symphony, with Antoine Tamestit; Daniel Harding conducting the Vienna Philharmonic (Kairos). This recording is available for pre-order now via Amazon.
- Mälkki has been a regular in New York of late, receiving raves for her graceful performances with the New York Philharmonic. The Finnish conductor is equally at home in the mysterious forests of The Wooden Prince and the far grimier cityscape of the The Miraculous Mandarin, navigating Bartók’s gruesome ballet scores with keenness and precision. For more information about this recording and purchase links, click here.
- “Josefowicz offered a one-of-a-kind sublime yet spectacularly sassy performance of Oliver Knussen’s Violin Concerto as part of a much-needed year-end Knussen tribute she and conductor Susanna Mälkki devised for the L.A. Phil.”
Another outstanding orchestral event marked the return to the BSO of someone we need to hear more often, the Finnish conductor Susanna Mälkki (chief conductor of the Helsinki Philharmonic), in what was only her fourth visit to the BSO and her first appearance since February 2011. This program included Fauré’s beloved “Pavane,” played with exquisite transparency and refinement (helped immensely by Elizabeth Rowe’s flute), one movement from an early piece by Messiaen, and the American premiere of an exciting and challenging half-hour long BSO co-commission, Swiss composer Dieter Ammann’s Piano Concerto (“Gran Partita”), both written for and played by the Swiss master Andreas Haefliger.
But the big event was more surprising. Debussy’s “La Mer” is familiar BSO territory. The BSO played its American premiere in 1907, only two years after its world premiere in Paris, and it has since become a staple of almost every BSO music director and countless guest conductors. The BSO archives lists 327 individual performances of it. But this one was not the familiar run-through with gorgeous playing and little more than merely pictorial content (the waves and the wind). Mälkii delivered a thrilling adventure, layers of wind and sea intermingling, teasing each other, arguing with each other, making love. I can’t remember ever hearing a live performance so involving, so thrilling, so thoroughly about so many things.
Photo: Simon Fowler