The FRSO at the peak of the Sibelius 150 anniversary

Published 25.8.2015

Ace pianists from Murray Perahia to András Schiff on the season 2015/2016

The Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra will be honouring Jean Sibelius in the forthcoming season as the maestro’s 150 anniversary reaches its peak: at the Helsinki Music Centre, on tour abroad and on the Yle channels. Among the items on the season’s programme are the original versions of his Fifth Symphony and his Violin Concerto. The orchestra will also be taking a Sibelius programme on tour to the Far East.

Legendary pianists Murray Perahia, Nelson Freire and András Schiff among the soloists

The season will be a feast of music played by great pianists. Murray Perahia, who last performed in Finland eight years ago, will now make his debut appearance at the Helsinki Music Centre. Brazilian Nelson Freire, another star pianist and one who seldom appears in concert, will be giving his first performance with the FRSO. Our audiences will have a rare chance to compare these two great keyboard masters, since both will be playing Beethoven’s Fourth Piano Concerto. Legendary András Schiff, a pianist who has appeared with the FRSO a number of times before, will both conduct and play Concertos by Mozart and Haydn. Other superb pianists engaged as soloists with the FRSO include Jeremy Denk, Steven Osbourne, Stephen Hough and Olli Mustonen.

Top-rate guest artists from David Zinman to Violeta Urmana

The list of guest conductors includes David Zinman, until recently for many years skipper of the Tonhalle Orchestra in Zurich, Tugan Sokhiev, Music Director of the Bolshoi Theatre, and Manfred Honeck, Music Director of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. Baroque genius Fabio Biondi will both conduct the orchestra and play his Guarneri violin. In addition to the FRSO’s honorary conductor Jukka-Pekka Saraste, the Finnish maestros with the FRSO will include Santtu-Matias Rouvali, Mikko Franck and Osmo Vänskä.

Of the vocalists starring with the FRSO, Swedish mezzo icon Anne Sofie von Otter will be singing Sibelius songs orchestrated by Aulis Sallinen. Karita Mattila can be heard in a programme of Saariaho and Sibelius’s Luonnotar, and at the Helsinki Festival singing Marie in Alban Berg’s Wozzeck. Soile Isokoski is one of the soloists in Mendelssohn’s Elijah, and the highly-acclaimed Lithuanian Wagner soprano Violeta Urmana will sing the final scene from Götterdämmerung.

Eight premieres

During the 2015/2016 season the FRSO will be giving the world premiere performance of six works commissioned by the Finnish Broadcasting Company (Yle). In addition to the Sibelius songs orchestrated by Aulis Sallinen these will, in the autumn season, include Symphony no. 16 for mezzo-soprano, strings and percussion by Kalevi Aho and an orchestral work by Antti Auvinen. Orchestral works by Sampo Haapamäki and Osmo Tapio Räihälä and a chamber work by Kirmo Lintinen are scheduled for the spring. Also to be premiered are a chamber work by Maija Hynninen and a Piano Concerto by Seppo Pohjola.

Premiere Finnish screening of historic Rosenkavalier film

The film made of Richard Strauss’s opera Der Rosenkavalier in 1925 was one of the world’s first opera movies and can now be seen in Finland for the first time. Likewise to receive their first performance in Finland are the Second Cello Concerto by Magnus Lindberg and the Clarinet Concerto by Unsuk Chin with Kari Kriikku as the soloist. In January, Leila Josefowicz will be the soloist with the FRSO in the first performance in Finland of the Violin Concerto by John Adams premiered in New York only a few weeks ago with the New York Philharmonic.

Grand Tour chamber music festival 13–15 May

In the 18th century, well-to-do Europeans might make The Grand Tour, meaning a culturally-oriented study tour to Italy. It is in this spirit that the FRSO musicians have planned a set of seven concerts of music by composers such as Rossini, Varèse, Salonen and Bach.

Sibelius for the Far East and Austria

In October–November Hannu Lintu will conduct the FRSO on a tour of the Far East with Sibelius Symphonies and Tone Poems and the Violin Concerto. The soloist on this tour will be Akiko Suwanai. At the beginning of 2016, Lintu and the FRSO will be heading for Austria and such venues as the Vienna Konzerthaus. Again the tour programme will include Sibelius Symphonies and Tone Poems, but also Shostakovich’s Fifth Symphony and the Violin Concerto by John Adams.