Malkki conjured audacious swells of volume, brightly polished details and a colossal grandeur softened by disarming beauty.
“Malkki conjured audacious swells of volume, brightly polished details and a colossal grandeur softened by disarming beauty.”
“Sibelius — at whose namesake school Mälkki studied with Panula — was represented not just by two planned works, but also by two encores: “Valse Triste” and, after Mälkki asked the audience to indulge a bit of patriotism, “Finlandia.”
That piece is too famous for its own good and is often played with ineffective sentimentality. But under Mälkki’s baton, and with this orchestra — Sibelius’s sound world etched in its bones — “Finlandia” was newly disarming, modestly dignified in its touching harmonies and iron-willed fanfares.
It was a delivery reminiscent of the program’s opener, “Lemminkäinen’s Return,” the fourth legend from Sibelius’s “Lemminkäinen Suite,” based on the “Kalevala,” Finland’s national epic. A brief finale to a long work, the “Return” is all climax, but Mälkki maintained a level head, unleashing a bit of fiery folk aggression here and there, but for the most part emphasizing color and letting it bloom with grandeur that was assured rather than insistent.”