Tapiola is not an intrinsically dramatic work, but played like this it was gripping, and as the final section begins abject terror appeared to grip the sound. Mälkki controlled it remarkably tightly, like an unfolding thriller, and the orchestra followed her to create a gripping piece of musical drama.
“Stamina and energy were the name of the game in this demanding programme of contemporary works. Fortunately the Helsinki Philharmonic and conductor Susanna Mälkki had plenty of both, delivering an astounding showcase of bold orchestral colours and textures… Mälkki and the orchestra created a satisfying sense of unity and fabulous effects such as the wind sweeping through the forest in a gale.”
“The Helsinki Philharmonic are an unquestionably thrilling musical unit, and under conductor Susanna Mälkki create a dynamic, and polyphonic world. Opening with Sibelius, the audience were transported into a mysterious Finnish world, cold and beset by dancing winds painted in twirling motifs. A grandly beautiful opening, it cast a spell wrought in elegant, fragmentary melodies, and couched in enigmatic strings, and playful woodwind.”
“Da zeigten sich Qualitäten des Orchesters, die sich im Programm nach allen Seiten entfalteten: hin zu ozeanischen Klangimpressionen in Kaija Saariahos «Vista», zu Per Norgards moderat tänzelnder achter Sinfonie und zur romantischen Grosssinfonik in Sibelius’ «Tapiola». Der grösste Applaus aber galt an diesem Abend Ammans Werk: Auch die Standing Ovations hatten das Zeug zur Legenden-Bildung.”
“Given in one of those performances where everything just clicks together, John Adams’s Violin Concerto (1993) was immaculately served on Friday evening by Leila Josefowicz and the Helsinki Philharmonic under Chief Conductor Susanna Mälkki. As the score unfolded in its sounding reality, all parameters were beautifully aligned, resulting in musical vision of unusual depth and absorbing intensity.
A powerhouse performance form Josefowicz, the orchestra and Mälkki, the amount of shared energy onstage was simply phenomenal. Ever in perfect accord, the soloist and the orchestral players delivered a reading like no other. Bound together by Mälkki’s pristine alignment, the Helsinki Philharmonic tackled Adams’s orchestral writing with flying colours, while Josefowicz feasted with the solo part with utmost dedication, rooted in her matchless command over the music.
Twenty seven years after its Finnish premiere by the same orchestra, conducted by the composer, with Vasko Vassilev as soloist, there was an aura of homecoming in the air, as the concerto was resounded under the guidance of Josefowicz and Mälkki. A milestone performance, the evening will be long remembered.”