The concerto seems frozen between states, its harmonic center melting away without ever evaporating, but in Mälkki’s expert hands, it could sound almost traditional in structure.
“The concerto seems frozen between states, its harmonic center melting away without ever evaporating, but in Mälkki’s expert hands, it could sound almost traditional in structure. In the first movement, she lined up emphatic pizzicati with the accents that Aimard plucked out of the solo part. In the second, a siren crescendoed into a blaring signal whistle to herald the piano’s violent re-entry — a satisfying climax built from unusual means. The music seemed to levitate with the centrifugal force of rampaging bongos. The strange postludes that close out the second movement (scored for Chromonica) and the fifth (a duet for xylophone and piano) were gripping afterthoughts.”
“This was no ordinary performance. In no way idiosyncratic, it was the playing that was so fine throughout, along with the pace and shaping from Mälkki. Starting with Chris Martin’s brilliant, mellifluous trumpet fanfare, the instrumental sounds were gorgeous and refined. The woodwinds as a section were simply luscious throughout, and the low brass produced a huge and nuanced body of sound in the “Catacombae.”
Most of all, this was a performance of an overly familiar work that was full of the kind of purposeful, meaningful drama one rarely hears in this piece anymore. One wanted to hear it again and again.”
“A name that seems to be on everyone’s short list in Susanna Mälkki, who served as the principal guest conductor in LA from 2016 through 2022. The Helsinki-born, Paris-based conductor demonstrates equal aptitude in contemporary classical music and with repertory staples, a desirable combination as more orchestras seek to widen the canon. And her manner on the podium, dynamic yet controlled, captures both intellectual rigor and a palpable joy in musicmaking.
All those qualities were on full display when Mälkki arrived in New York this past week to lead a fascinatingly varied program of works spanning more than a century and many stylistic contours.”