Mälkki drew colors from the orchestra and shaped dynamics in a way that was true to this music’s wistful beauty, its inner allegiance to the cadences of memory and of dusk.
“The impressive Finnish conductor Susanna Mälkki made an overdue return to the Boston Symphony Orchestra podium on Thursday night, with a program devoted to French works and the American premiere of an ambitious new piano concerto […] Opening the night, Fauré’s famous melody, as presented first in an eloquent flute solo by Elizabeth Rowe, spoke with limpid elegance. Throughout the work Mälkki drew colors from the orchestra and shaped dynamics in a way that was true to this music’s wistful beauty, its inner allegiance to the cadences of memory and of dusk.
Next to the Fauré, “La Mer” is perhaps equally well-loved yet also far more ubiquitous on orchestral programs. Even so, Mälkki’s reading had nothing canned or routine about it. Other accounts place a higher emphasis on atmosphere and kind of sonic sumptuousness as ends in themselves. Mälkki’s reading, full of keenly ordered details, emphasized the music’s elemental vitality and drive. It somehow comes as little surprise to learn that this conductor has referred to the music of Sibelius as her own mother tongue; her Debussy bore the imprint of an interpreter accustomed to shaping wide horizons of sound.”
-Jeremy Eichler, The Boston Globe