Before “The Tempest,” Mälkki led a virtuosic, vibrant performance of Mahler’s Fifth Symphony. She is best known for her advocacy of new music—she conducted Kaija Saariaho’s “L’Amour de Loin” at the Met in 2016—but she has quietly emerged as a formidable interpreter of the Romantic and early-modern repertory.
“Sibelius wrote music for “The Tempest” in the mid-nineteen-twenties, toward the end of his mysteriously abbreviated composing career. The L.A. Phil, under the baton of Susanna Mälkki, its principal guest conductor, gave a brilliant account of the score…
Last season at the L.A. Phil, she made Strauss’s “Alpine Symphony” sound like a towering masterpiece, which it is not. Her Mahler felt less like a moment-to-moment drama than like a vast landscape undergoing spectacular geological upheavals. The L.A. players’ immersion in new music, far from hindering their work in standard repertory, surely helped them to deliver a fresh account of a familiar score; before intermission, they had given the première of Reich’s Music for Ensemble and Orchestra, a vista of shimmering desert stillness. If the orchestra has a future, it is here.”
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