Pelléas et Mélisande in Aix-en-Provence

Susanna Mälkki’s musical direction, with its rather calm tempos and its attention to details and colors, maintains the atmosphere of a waking dream.

Les Echos

Stravinsky, Ravel and Skrjabin with Mitsuko Uchida and the HPO

Mälkki johti laajoin, intohimoisen kaarin ja eriytti upeasti soolojen ja soitinryhmien äänet palavasti hehkuvasta sointimassasta.

Helsingin Sanomat

Susanna Mälkki makes her debut with the Sächsische Staatskapelle

Der Sächsischen Staatskapelle gelang unter der Leitung von Debütantin Susanna Mälkki nicht nur eine großartige Präzision, sondern eine beeindruckend sinnliche Klangsynthese.

Dresdner Neueste Nachrichten

Lowell Liebermann and Mahler with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra

Her account of Mahler’s Symphony No. 4 on March 21 at Orchestra Hall not only separated her from other ascendant women conductors I’ve witnessed, but much more to the point placed her unequivocally among today’s most important conductors altogether.

Classical Voice North America

Bach and Hindemith with the Cleveland Orchestra

Susanna Mälkki leads Cleveland Orchestra in brilliant performances of Bach, Hindemith & more

Brahms with the Los Angeles Philharmonic

Witnessing Mälkki’s conducting is a captivating experience.

Stage and Cinema

HR-Sinfoniekonzert at the Alte Oper

Die ungewöhnliche Zusammenstellung der Werke, die herausragende Leistung des Solisten Wu Wei, die begeisternde Gastdirigentin Susanna Mälkki und die exzellente Darbietung des hr-Sinfonieorchesters machten diesen Abend zu einem feinen Erlebnis.

Online Merker

Wiener Symphoniker unter Susanna Mälkki

Am Ende des gemeinsamen Auftritts im Konzerthaus sah man am Dienstagabend jedenfalls nur strahlende Mienen.

Der Standard

Die Highlights des Jahres

Wie auch in dem Werk, das die finnische Dirigentin Susanna Mälkki Anfang September dirigierte...

SRF Schweizer Radio und Fernsehen

Washington Classical Reviews: Top Ten Performances of 2023

Music of Sibelius and Saariaho. Susanna Mälkki/Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra. Washington Performing Arts.

Washington Classical Reviews

New York Classical Review: Top Ten Performances of 2023

There is no better conductor in classical music right now than Susanna Mälkki

New York Classical Review

The best of classical music in 2023

...the most arresting, revealing and thrilling performance of Symphony No. 2 I’ve ever heard.

The Washington Post

Concert at Teatro San Carlo with Maria Agresta

Una direzione chiara, elegante, calibrata e musicalmente ben curata, precisa negli attacchi quanto di sensibilità notevole sia sul piano del dato storico che dell’espressione.

Connessi all'opera

NY Philharmonic performs Ligeti

Under Susanna Mälkki’s direction, contrasts were played up, with luminescent timbres in the piece’s slow movements and vivacious mixed-meter music in its fast sections.

Sequenza 21

Ligeti with the New York Phil

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 New York Times

The Makropulos Affair at Opéra Bastille

Dans la fosse, Susanna Mälkki fait des miracles avec une partition pourtant à la limite du jouable. L’orchestre sonne admirablement, sans que les particularités du langage janačékien soient édulcorées.

Forum Opéra

Chicago Classical Review: Critic’s Choice for 2023-24

Susanna Mälkki & Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Music of Wagner, Liebermann, and Mahler. March 21-24.

Chicago Classical Review

Kaija Saariahon unohtumattoman jäähyväisteoksen kantaesityksen jälkeen kuultiin Mahlerin pitkät jäähyväiset.

Mälkki balansoi kaiken hienosti ja soitto oli usein poikkeuksellisen puhdasta. RSO esitteli virtuositeettiaan esimerkiksi kolmannen osan lopun huippunopeassa tempossa. Samalla kaikki kaunista hiljentymistä vaativa toteutettiin rikkumattomasti.

Helsingin Sanomat

Beethoven’s Ninth at Tanglewood

After such a performance, Mälkki can deservedly add the paradigm “exemplary educator” to her already impressive resumé.


Soothing Optimism Obtained

Mälkki choreographed this dance with verve and energy. The third movement, a nostalgic though rather gloomy elegy, also kept the voices of the sections lively and independent; hope flourished with them.

The Boston Musical Intelligencer

Cleveland Orchestra opens Blossom season with warm musical embrace including ‘Ode to Joy’

Under Malkki... a strings-only orchestra treated listeners to a sublime reverie penned in 1943

Helsinki Philharmonic at Carnegie Hall

Her departing gift was the great musical heritage of her homeland, which one will likely encounter again, and tremendous orchestral playing at a level of musicality one hopes to hear again.

New York Classical Review

Helsinki Philharmonic at the Kennedy Center Concert Hall

Malkki conjured audacious swells of volume, brightly polished details and a colossal grandeur softened by disarming beauty.

The Washington Post

Innocence at the Royal Opera House

Conductor Susanna Mälkki draws out deftly the music's chilling juxtapositions; low oppressive tones murmur but are suddenly lacerated by wailing strings.

Broadway World

Concerts with the New York Philharmonic

The orchestra, led by Mälkki with focused confidence on Wednesday, tends to be active but subdued, the way you can perceive seething activity even in a seemingly still jungle.

New York Times

Pelléas et Mélisande at the Auditorium de Radio France

Quant à la direction de Susanna Mälkki, dirigeant un Orchestre National de France très performant, elle souligne avec beaucoup de force et d’intuition une trame orchestrale complexe, sans chercher à effacer une influence wagnérienne qui parfois fait surface tout au long de ces cinq actes.

ON Magazine

Münchner Philharmoniker at the Isarphilharmonie

Die hellwache Susanna Mälkki dirigiert die Münchner Philharmoniker in der Isarphilharmonie. Ein Abend mit einer Musik, die aufs Wesentliche konzentriert ist.

Süddeutsche Zeitung

Il Trittico, debut at Gran Teatre del Liceu

Lo de la maestra finlandesa fue toda una lección pucciniana, tanto en la melodramática y tierna Suor Angelica como en ese festival musical que es Gianni Schicchi, lleno de color. La famosa italianità no es cosa solo de los transalpinos, es cuestión de alma y trabajo y Susanna Mälkki demostró tener ambos de sobra.

Platea Magazine

Helsinki Orchestra Tour

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.

Seen and Heard International

Rake’s Progress at the Metropolitan Opera

Mälkki was greeted with great enthusiasm by the audience, and then led a sparkling performance from the orchestra and chorus. The rhythms seemed to burst from her clear, detailed baton technique, and the instrumental colors were polished to a high sheen. The music seemed to shine all night with that special Stravinskyian light, which is like neon, even in the dark and tender stretches of the final scene. This was as energetic and fluent a performance as one has ever heard of this music, while still digging into the charm, pathos, and wit.

New York Classical Review

Wozzeck at the Opéra Bastille

Protagoniste essentiel de cette construction musicale et dramatique implacable, l’Orchestre de l’Opéra est porté à l’incandescence par Susanna Mälkki, qui se défait de l’objectivité analytique derrière laquelle elle se réfugie souvent dans la musique du XXe siècle, pour rechercher une expressivité décomplexée. Ce qui passe par moins de perfectionnisme e plus d’intensité, jusqu’à un interlude en ré mineur poignant à souhait. Sa baguette a tout à y gagner, et le public de moins de 28 ans venu en nombre à l’avant-première tenues ne s’y est pas trompé, qui a fait un triomphe, qui a fait un triomphe à un spectacle écouté dans un silence religieux.

Le Figaro

Carnegie Hall debut

The chief conductor of the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra, Mälkki... brought out piquant touches, like some characterful wails of clarinet, and the tidal undercurrent of the low strings at certain moments even anticipated the grand “swan call” climax of the Sibelius. [...] She patiently, persuasively built that symphony’s fitful first movement, and the whole work had a feeling of straightforwardness, lightness and modesty; neither tempos nor emotions were milked; the performance was more lovely than intense.

The New York Times

An evening of discovery and rediscovery – celebrating Finnish music with the Helsinki Philharmonic and Susanna Mälkki

With Mälkki on the podium, the orchestral fabric was laid out with translucent beauty and intricate detail.

Adventures in Music

New York Times – Best of 2021

Susanna Malkki, Saariaho’s finest interpreter, conducted all of these.

New York Times

Concert with the LA Phil

I was struck by the exceptional degree of transparency in the opening minutes — almost like chamber music, only louder — and Mälkki was quick to jump headlong into the first fervent rush with evident delight, enforcing razor-sharp cutoffs later. The huge outpourings of chromatic sound in the penultimate climax and the impassioned final chord made their anticipated impact.

San Francisco Classical Voice

Bartók: Concerto for Orchestra / Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta

Mälkin ja HKO:n levyllä onnistuu kaikki vapautuneesti, olivat tempot tai rytmit kuinka kimurantteja tahansa. Dynaamiset paisutukset, runsaat temponvaihdokset, hurjat äkkilähdöt – kaikki osuu nappiin. Rikkaasta detaljityöstä huolimatta esitys ei vaikuta mikromanageeratulta.

Helsingin Sanomat

New World Symphony at the Arsht Center

Susanna Mälkki led the New World Symphony in a reading of Sibelius’ Symphony No. 2 in D Major on Saturday night at the Arsht Center that was revelatory

South Florida Classical Review

Saariaho’s Vista saluted with standing ovation – astounding evening with the Helsinki Philharmonic and Susanna Mälkki

Performed with riveting sensitivity and remarkable instrumental expressivity by the Helsinki Philharmonic under Mälkki, Vista was given an wondrous live outing at the Music Centre on Wednesday. An immaculate fusion of textural richness and solid musical architecture, the performance was lauded with a standing ovation as the composer took her bows with Mälkki and the orchestra; a concert opening to remember.

Adventures in Music

Saariaho: Innocence

Pour sa première venue au Festival d’Aix, la cheffe d’orchestre finlandaise Susanna Mälkki à la tête du London Symphony Orchestra assure le lien subtil entre les tempi de la scène et de la fosse, dans une écriture de la déchirure, entre l’hyper-grave et l’hyper-aigu, la longue traine résonante et le scintillement pointilliste.


Gazing into unforeseen horizons

Vivid world premiere of Saariaho’s Vista by Mälkki and the Helsinki Philharmonic

Adventures in Music

Bartók: Bluebeard’s Castle

Orchestrally it’s magnificent; the Helsinki Philharmonic creates a sumptuously detailed sound world, which Mälkki focuses exactly on each unfolding layer of the drama

The Guardian

Ammann | Ravel | Bartók

Bei Ravel und Bartók punktet vor allem Susanna Mälkki

Klassik heute

Mälkki, in an empty hall, makes a full impression

Sounds were silky and subdued, but not inert. Mälkki captured the sensuous essence of the score without sacrificing momentum.

La Scena Musicale

The Cleveland Orchestra Let It Rip at Last Night’s Celebration of Sibelius, Knussen

Under the capable baton of Susanna Mälkki (chief conductor of the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra and principal guest conductor for the Los Angeles Philharmonic) the velvety notes of Sibelius’ fairy tale-themed “En Saga” eased the audience into the concert, which was soon to become far more wild.

The Scene Magazine

Cleveland Orchestra soars in Sibelius, Knussen with boost from gifted champions

Leading two works by Sibelius, the musical hero of her homeland, Malkki Thursday night at Severance Hall evinced not only great technical aplomb but also rare interpretive insight. In her expert hands, the music soared and sang, throbbed and thrashed, all to enormous impact.

The Plain Dealer

Susanna Mälkki and the LA Phil Honor Oliver Knussen’s Legacy

In past performances, Mälkki and Josefowicz have shared many a dance. Saturday the Knussen concerto provided them with perfect choreography.

The San Francisco Classical Voice

Beethoven, Prokofiev, and Betsy Jolas with the Philadelphia Orchestra

In fact, Mälkki made the opening movement sing so effectively that I caught myself humming along with Prokofiev (sorry!) — and particularly enjoying the shimmering depths of the Philadelphia Orchestra sound.

The Philadelphia Inquirer

Turangalîla-Symphonie à l’Orchestre National de Lyon

Avec Susanna Mälkki, dont on a souvent loué l’intelligibilité et l’intelligence des options dans Messiaen, l’entente semble idéale.

Res Musica

REVIEW: Philosophy in the Air at the Philharmonic

Mälkki chisels from Haydn’s modest score an aerodynamic, white marble sculpture. Tension and repose in equal measure.


At BSO, an American premiere bookended by French classics

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 Boston Globe

Haefliger, BSO give an intense and eclectic piano concerto a brilliant U.S. premiere

Mälkki, an exceptional advocate for complex new scores, had a tight handle on the orchestral proceedings... she drew playing of terrific energy, taut balances, and bright color from the BSO. The brass and percussion sections, in particular, glowed.

Boston Classical Review

Review: Susanna Mälkki returns to the New York Philharmonic

In her third appearance with the orchestra, she proved once again why she’s one of the most exciting and in-demand conductors of her generation.

The New York Times

Jubel für Susanna Mälkki beim SHMF in Lübeck

Eigentlich war sie nur für den erkrankten Marris Jansons eingesprungen – doch die finnische Dirigentin Susanna Mälkki sorgte in der Lübecker MuK für Begeisterungsstürme. Sie führte das Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks meisterhaft.

Lübecker Nachrichten Online

Un Château de Barbe Bleue d’une rare intensité

Susanna Mälkki est une « rigoriste » de la partition, dont elle va chercher les moindre nuances, sans jamais prendre les libertés qu’on entend quelquefois chez certains chefs (y compris des légendes comme Toscanini). Par une science des dosages et une grande précision du geste, elle crée une dramaturgie musicale qui clarifie et approfondit la lecture, et qui à l’audition a produit des moments de pure stupéfaction.


Rusalka at the Bastille Opera: Susanna Mälkki’s coronation

With a concern for the line that goes forward, Susanna Mälkki actually offers a Dvořák with clear rhythms that approaches the first Sibelius. There is much warmth in this direction of crystalline clarity, much humanity in this snooping and awakening tonicity. Little by little, the Opera Orchestra is transformed by sounds of prodigious simplicity.

Opera Online

After 70 years, Susanna Mälkki proves Messiaen’s ‘Turangalila’ is torrid no more

This much is certain. There was never the slightest hint of vulgarity in the enthralling Los Angeles Philharmonic performance of “Turangalila” that Susanna Mälkki conducted Thursday night at Walt Disney Concert Hall. She took at face value all of Messiaen and made it purposeful.

The Los Angeles Times

Susanna Malkki lead a mind-opening performance of Mahler’s Fifth with the Los Angeles Philharmonic

The symphony is episodic; hearing it is like binge-watching an entire season of a TV melodrama. But under Ms. Malkki’s baton it had the cohesion of a novel. The Philharmonic musicians followed her faithfully, adding insight after insight to an overplayed work. And she brought out inner voices..."

The New York Times

L.A. Phil’s Green Umbrella takes on the European avant-garde

Mälkki, who is a former music director of the Ensemble Intercontemporain in Paris, very much has her finger on the European pulse and is a compelling advocate of uncompromising modernism.

Los Angeles Times

Orchestral grandeur lifts ‘The Tempest’ in Old Globe-connected staging with L.A. Philharmonic

...Mälkki’s conducting is sharp and vibrantly expressive.

The San Diego Union Tribune

In LA, Mälkki Stunningly Links Mahler to Bach via Reich

…with Susanna Mälkki on the podium, the entire concert on November 2 made the concept of a modern symphony orchestra itself feel vitally relevant. Juxtaposed against pleasures of Reich’s exquisitely crafted piece, a familiar Mahler symphony—the Fifth—was transformed into a revelatory experience.

Musical America

Une 9e de Mahler de répertoire

On n’est pas surpris, sous cette direction experte de complexités bien plus grandes, de voir aisément rendue la dimension presque géométrique de contrepoint de l’Andante comodo. Comme d’ailleurs Boulez, elle y parvient en prenant plutôt son temps, mais sans oublier de donner un profil rythmique spécifique à chaque séquence selon son indication. Cette précision qui ne contente pas d’être mécanique, mais est d’abord d’accent et de phrasé, se révèle gratifiante à quantité d’endroits, comme au lancement du etwas frisch, de l’allegro risoluto Mit Wut (9) et surtout dans le coeur en fusion du développement qu’est la section de part et d’autre du Leidenschaftlisch (11 à 13), d’une lisibilité et d’une intensité rares, imposant un climat lunaire, quelque part entre descente au Nibelung du Rheingold et Rondes printanières du Sacre.


Susanna Mälkki’s Greatness As A Conductor

“[In] such a bold and wide-ranging program... Ms. Mälkki showed once again her greatness as a conductor.”

The Berkeley Daily Planet

Conductor Susanna Mälkki makes a colorful splash with San Francisco Symphony

She seems able to do it all, is what I’m saying, and her gift for molding orchestral sonorities in music by Scriabin and Kaija Saariaho only added a new and unsurprising entry to the ledger of her talents.

San Francisco Chronicle

Mahler par l’Orchestre philharmonique d’Helsinki à la Seine Musicale

Troisième Symphonie n° 9 de Mahler cette saison à Paris, la proposition de Susanna Mälkki avec son Philharmonique d’Helsinki est sans doute la plus aboutie, l’intelligence du discours et le poids des phrases des deux mouvements lents se trouvant seulement réduits par un incessant bruit de fond parasite à la Seine Musicale.

Alta Musica

Ein nordisches Gipfeltreffen im Zeichen der Schwermut

Das erste von drei Gastspielen des Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra zum Auftakt der Konzertsaison der Salzburger Kulturvereinigung vermittelt vor allem hohe Qualität. Vor allem, wenn die international renommierte Dirigentin auf den norwegischen Meistercellisten Truls Mork trifft - ein nordischer Gipfel der Extraklasse.

Salzburger Nachrichten

Dantons Tod: Köpferollen zum Geburtstag

Viel Bewegung also auf der Bühne; viel Action auch im Graben. Denn hier waltet mit der finnischen Dirigentin Susanna Mälkki eine absolute Spezialistin für das Repertoire des 20. und 21. Jahrhunderts ihres Amtes. Gemeinsam mit dem (nach einer Tournee endlich auch wieder philharmonisch besetztem) Staatsopernorchester bringt Mälkki Von Einems Musiksprache gut zum Klingen. Mächtige, abernicht zu mächtige Ausbrüche hier, zarte, intimen Szenen dort und ein bewusstes Verweisen auf musikalische Zitate prägen das Dirigatder Staatsoperndebütantin.

Kurier Wertung

Dantons Tod: Die Revolution frisst ihre Kinder

Schlagtechnisch perfekt steuert Susanna Mälkki das Staatsopernorchester durch die heiklen Passagen der wunderbar differenzierten Partitur.

Kronen Zeitung

Dantons Tod: Der Ton der aufgehetzten, verführten Masse

Die Schlüssigkeit des Handlungsverlaufs bzw. des Konfliktes zwischen Danton und Robespierre, das heißt der Vertreter des gemäßigten und extremen Revolutionslagers, wird dabei durch die Exaktheit und Feingliedrigkeit unterstrichen, mit der die finnische Dirigentin Susanna Mälkki am Pult des Staatsopernorchesters die Partitur auslotet. Ihr gehört am Ende der größte Jubel.

Vorarlberger Nachrichten

Dantons Tod: Ein Abend voll dramatischer Kraft der Oper

Susanna Mälkki hat mit dem Staatsopernorchester die Partitur fein studiert und speziell in den prachtvollen Verwandlungsmusiken volle Arbeit geleistet: Die Massen auf der Bühne und das Orchester harmonierten perfekt.


Die Wiener Staatsoper zeigt Gottfried von Einems “Dantons Tod”

Viel Bewegung also auf der Bühne; viel Action auch im Graben. Denn hier waltet mit der finnischen Dirigentin Susanna Mälkki eine absolute Spezialistin für das Repertoire des 20. und 21. Jahrhunderts ihres Amtes. Gemeinsam mit dem (nach einer Tournee endlich auch wieder philharmonisch besetztem) Staatsopernorchester bringt Mälkki Von Einems Musiksprache gut zum Klingen. Mächtige, aber nicht zu mächtige Ausbrüche hier, zarte, intimen Szenen dort und ein bewusstes Verweisen auf musikalische Zitate prägen das Dirigat der Staatsoperndebütantin. Und sängerfreundlich ist das Ganze über weite Strecken auch.


Dantons Tod: Im Spiegel der Geschichte

Susanna Mälkki realisiert am Pult des fulminanten Staatsopernorchesters Einems Musik ideal: Unablässig treibt die finnische Dirigentin die Rhythmen zur Entladung, sie türmt herrlich ausbalanciert die Bläserakkorde auf und lässt Singstimmen und Streichern Raum zur sinnlichen Entfaltung der Lyrismen. All das geschieht unter steter Hochspannung – jede Pause wäre ein Fremdkörper: das Werk pausenlos durchzuspielen an diesem beklemmenden und erregenden Abend, ist eine sehr gute Entscheidung.

Die Ovationen am Ende galten sowohl dem Werk selbst als auch einer Ensembleleistung ohne Schwachstelle: ein politisches Statement auf höchstem künstlerischen Niveau.

Wiener Zeitung

“Dantons Tod” in der Staatsoper: Die Mächtigen verstehen

Die Finnin bewältigt den Stilpluralismus der Partitur ebenso sanftgleitend, wie sie der wuchtigen Vorlage an den richtigen Stellen die Dämpfer anlegt, um den Sängern nicht die Chance zum Glänzen zu nehmen.

Salzburger Nachrichten

Germany’s greatest living composer has a moment under the L.A. Phil Green Umbrella

Mälkki kept the players intensely focused, and the New Music Group sounded for all the world like one of Europe's top new music ensembles.

Los Angeles Times

Zimmermann’s Cello Concerto at Disney Hall

Mälkki had opened the evening with a reading of Webern’s Bach orchestration that was unusually beautiful, more Stokowski lushness than abstract lines, less Klangfarbenmelodie and more music. She followed up after the intermission with a reading of Strauss’s unaccountably popular Alpine Symphony by working together with the Philharmonic to create flow, placing the big audiophile moments within a gently exhilarating lyrical intelligibility.


A Conductor’s Exciting Return to the New York Philharmonic

On Thursday at David Geffen Hall, the Finnish conductor Susanna Malkki led the New York Philharmonic in a performance of the work that was so urgent, detailed and exciting that I forgot all about cresting sea and splashing waves. I was, instead, engrossed by the way Ms. Malkki brought out the colors, intricacies and radicalism of “La Mer”

New York Times

Music of Salonen and Debussy provide the highlights in Mälkki’s Philharmonic program

Mälkki is not only one of the finest conductors on the scene, but a conducting star in the way of the mid-20th century era of great maestros. She is unmatched for podium presence, projecting an assured authority that has an uncanny. almost mesmerizing effect.

New York Classical Review

Susanna Mälkki’s first appearance as the LA orchestra’s new principal guest conductor

What the 48-year-old Mälkki does bring is, first and probably foremost, the ability to create viscerally arresting performances.

LA Times

Susanna Mälkki brings more news to the Los Angeles Philharmonic

But the main thing with Mälkki, who is music director of the Helsinki Philharmonic in her native Finland and former music of the Paris-based Ensemble Intercontemporain, is not that she brings something foreign to, or lacking in, the L.A. Phil. More to the point is how much a natural she is for this versatile and venturesome orchestra.

LA Times

“Hands across the Baltic: Stockholm celebrates Finland’s jubilee”

This is music that these Finnish musicians will have played countless times, yet under the baton of Susanna Mälkki, who became the orchestra’s chief conductor only last year, they brought a freshness and enlightenment – it’s one of those rare pieces that seems to invite new insight with every performance."


Cleveland Orchestra Summers @ Severance with Mälkki & Chamayou

Mälkki led an expansive performance of the concerto and Chamayou was in fine control of both its florid and rhetorical material, playing with efficiency and expressiveness.

“Fabulous Finns at Ravinia”

Last week Ravinia hosted another celebration of sorts for Finland: a pair of concerts featuring the music of Sibelius led by one of Finland’s hot exports: the fabulous conductor Susanna Mälkki. I caught the second of these concerts on Friday and found it to be a truly splendid evening.

Hyde Park Herald

“Mälkki, CSO ignite a summer storm with epic Sibelius at Ravinia”

With her regular CSO appearances downtown, Susanna Mälkki has become a Chicago favorite in recent seasons. In the final of her two consecutive Ravinia programs this week, the Finnish conductor led her first local performance of a Sibelius symphony. And Friday night’s grand and impassioned performance of the Symphony No. 2 showed once again why Mälkki is among the most exciting and illuminating of CSO podium guests."

Chicago Classical Review

“Mälkki leads CSO in a notably fresh “Eroica” at Ravinia”

Conductor Susanna Mälkki’s appearances with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in recent years have received considerable kudos from critics and audiences alike ... The orchestra under Mälkki’s firm hand was in top form, even with many principals taking the night off."

Chicago Classical Review

“Mälkki and Marsalis combine forces with the CSO”

Finnish conductor Susanna Mälkki led the CSO in an eclectic program. The evening opened with Bizet’s first symphony, the Symphony in C Major, a work written when he was only 17 years old. It is not as polished as his later compositions, but is full of youthful vigor and appeal, which Mälkki emphasized throughout. The orchestra reacted well to her leadership, creating a jaunty feel in the first movement and drawing energetic contrasts. The Adagio had mezmerizing oboe work, creamy violins, and suitably restrained pizzicatos throughout the strings. This was followed by sunny, dance-like music in the third movement. The finale was performed at a wild and scurrying pace that never forfeited clarity. Mälkki and the musicians maintained a fun sense of urgency right up to the moment of the exciting conclusion.

Hyde Park Herald

“Mälkki and the CSO serve up a powerful world premiere”

The Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s penultimate program of this season is a decidedly offbeat potpourri: a world premiere, a pair of French cornerstones, and a saxophone soloist equally at home in the realms of jazz and classical music ... the results were largely successful with Susanna Mälkki, one of the CSO’s most reliable guest conductors, in charge on the podium."

Chicago Classical Review

“Susanna Mälkki Conducts a Masterful Rite of Spring”

Moreover, in moments including the priceless gap between the music stopping and the audience monolithically rising to its feet, a badass woman named Susanna Mälkki wielded her suspended baton in a nameless space that she — singularly and securely — owns.

San Francisco Classical Voice

“Mälkki shines a bright light on Stravinsky”

"What Mälkki adds to the mix, though, is a gift for rhetoric that is at once sinuous and mathematical — an aural correlative to her clipped but balletic podium technique. Marking time in sharp-edged downbeats while eliciting fluid phrasing from the orchestra, she’s a swaying, swirling martinet."


Trompe-la-Mort / Opéra National de Paris

Women have little to say in this world; the opera fails the Bechdel test. That makes the presence of Susanna Mälkki on the podium doubly fortuitous. Her command is formidable, her clarity gives the evening form and momentum."

Financial Times

L’Amour de Loin / The Metropolitan Opera

... musically ravishing, with music that pulses and throbs and crests, particularly well rendered on Saturday night by conductor Susanna Mälkki."

Washington Post

Notable Performances and Recordings of 2016

Something else struck me about the apparition of “L’Amour de Loin” at the Met. Listening to the second performance, on December 6th, I thought, What is different? And I realized that the Met had never presented a contemporary score so steeped in European modernism ... To hear the Met players revelling in these sounds, under the inspired direction of Susanna Mälkki (alas, only the fourth female conductor in the company’s history), was one of the year’s great sensations. May it soon be repeated.

The New Yorker

L’Amour de Loin / The Metropolitan Opera

... musical standards remained lofty. Susanna Mälkki, making her house debut, conducted with verve that never precluded accuracy ..."

Financial Times

L’Amour de Loin / The Metropolitan Opera

"In addition, Thursday’s performance was the Met debut of the brilliant Finnish conductor Susanna Malkki, who becomes, amazingly, only the fourth woman to take the podium in the company’s history … This production is lucky to have the impressive Ms. Malkki conducting. All the modernist sonorities and layered strands in this dense, complex music come through. She is excellent at animating the buzzing, frenetic riffs and fleeting ostinatos that ripple through the score. It was only last year that this charismatic conductor, then 46, made her auspicious New York Philharmonic debut. The Met must have her back as often as possible.”

The New York Times

L’Amour de Loin / The Metropolitan Opera

Yet the opera is filled with action: The constantly changing psychological and emotional states of the characters, as they struggle with the ideal and the real, are exquisitely limned in Ms. Saariaho’s sensual music. This dynamism was front and center, expressed musically by the superb Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, under the expert leadership of Susanna Mälkki in her house debut. (This, too, was a milestone in the breaking of glass ceilings—she is only the fourth woman to conduct at the Met.)"

Wall Street Journal

L’Amour de Loin / The Metropolitan Opera

Nothing would kill this opera deader than a clumsy conductor; fortunately, Saariaho’s fellow Finn Susanna Mälkki summons the score’s swells and undertows with Poseidon-like powers. In this first Met engagement — as in her New York Philharmonic debut last year — she proves herself an indispensable marvel, drawing clarity and brilliance from the score’s complexities."


L’Amour de Loin / The Metropolitan Opera

"The excellent Susanna Mälkki made her Met debut in the pit. Unlike most opening nights, there was never a hint of dispute with tempos between singers and orchestra, and the conducting revealed every detail in the score and maintained impeccable balances within the orchestra and with the singers. The Finnish conductor was received as rapturously by the audience as the singers ..."

New York Classical Review

Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra

Perhaps the most memorable part of this evening was the palpable sense of joy that was radiating from the stage.


Chicago Symphony Orchestra

Mälkki has an uncommon ability to create the appropriate sound picture around every score she conducts.

Chicago Tribune

San Francisco Symphony

Under Malkki’s baton, the whirling finale was diamond-bright.

Mercury News

San Francisco Symphony

Mälkki’s presence on the podium ensured an overall level of unanimity and balance, with big, shapely orchestral textures and crisp but fluid rhythms.


San Francisco Symphony

The result is a thrilling bit of gladiatorial combat, and Mälkki and the orchestra delivered it with abundant power and precision.


Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra

Mälkki brought clarity and polish to this performance.


BBC Symphony Orchestra

... never has it sounded to me more like a total masterpiece than under Mälkki’s magnificent baton.

The Arts Desk

BBC Symphony Orchestra

Whether in the brisk forcefulness she brought to Mars or the frigid stillness she found in the Saturn movement, this was a strikingly strong and fresh performance.

The Telegraph

Cleveland Orchestra

Susanna Mälkki made the Cleveland Orchestra sound like a shinier, more transparent version of its usual self ...

The Plain Dealer (Cleveland)

Chicago Symphony Orchestra

... it was fascinating to see how expressively Mälkki sculpted and coaxed the music with her flowing, graceful movements.

The Classical Review

New Jersey Symphony Orchestra

Ms. Mälkki showed that Strauss, Debussy and Messiaen were demonstrating their skills more than they were testing them in these early pieces, creating music that is confident and deep rather than shallow or brash. Her gripping, polished accounts of the two Strauss tone poems showed them fully formed and forward thinking ...

The New York Times

Los Angeles Philharmonic

When Susanna Mälkki made her Los Angeles Philharmonic debut in 2010 it was hoped — at least by me — that the Finnish conductor would be invited back to show what she could really do. She was. And Sunday afternoon in Walt Disney Concert Hall, she did … Brahms’s Fourth Symphony was a knockout …

Los Angeles Times

Seattle Symphony Orchestra

Finnish guest conductor Susanna Mälkki combined graceful precision and fiery energy throughout the program.

The Seattle Times

San Francisco Symphony

...there's no question that Mälkki can invest anything she touches with persuasive grandeur ...

San Francisco Chronicle

Chicago Symphony Orchestra

Mälkki, music director of Ensemble InterContemporain, managed to not only pull off each work on this demanding program with striking success but sparked the CSO to some of their finest playing of the year.

Chicago Classical Review

Los Angeles Philharmonic (debut)

Mälkki conducts without a baton and respects transparency. Her rhythmic gestures are precise and energizing.

Los Angeles Times

Boston Symphony Orchestra (Tanglewood Festival)

Mälkki’s foundation was a rhythmic energy that constantly percolated underneath the musical surface, producing an unusually fresh rendition of Beethoven’s Fourth Symphony.

Boston Globe

BBC Symphony Orchestra

Mälkki's handling of Ravel's mordant choreographic poem deserved the most hearty clap.

The Times

Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra

Finnish conductor Susanna Mälkki is an elegant presence on the podium; tall and commanding, she combines strength and decisiveness with balletic grace and expressiveness that hold the eye as her music-making holds the ear.

St. Louis Post-Dispatch