Thursday, January 11, 2007

Back in Business

A long post after a long break.

Two subjects for today. 1. The world famous Finnish conductor Mr Esa-Pekka Salonen (Dr.h.c.) has signed a contract with the Philharmonia Orchestra; he will be the orchestra's principal conductor as of 2008 (details here). Just before that his contract with LA Philharmonic expires. Will he leave the American orchestra? My guess is not, but he might get a post other than its Music Director. Don't think that I like to repeat myself: these things happen all the time. (just read the Saraste post...) Since I do not agree with this kind of policies, I'm gonna write about it whenever it happens; or whenever I hear about it.

2. Finland (sorry, I just got back here, I have to write about them...) has many good pianists in my generation (people between 25-35 yo). However, the country's most famous one is Mr Olli Mustonen -a conductor and composer as well nowadays. He literally has a legendary status in the country, and powers that most of his generation's colleagues dream of, similar to those of few Finnish conductors. Anyway, I heard him for the first time ages ago: must have been early '90s, in Athens with a chamber orchestra. My first reactions were something between giggles, laughs and disgust. Don't get me wrong. He can play the piano, more or less. His moves, expressions, and overall presence on stage is just unbearable - to me that is.

As I grew up, I listened to some of his recordings, without ever getting even close to like his way of playing. Last September I went to listen to him -finally again- live. I thought, I like this piano concerto -Prokofiev 3rd- (I even had the illusion that it can't be hurt by anyone), and in any case this kind of music suits Olli very well. ...my, oh my... I was wrong! Silly me! And I -again- thought, that this is a clear piece. Never heard it before like that, and I guess right now, I never want to hear like that. (maybe I change my mind 10 years later...).

respighi

Anyway, to the point: Apart from that concert, it seems to me, that Mr Mustonen plays nowadays all weird concertos. Respighi's concerto in modo misolidio last year, Hindemith's concerto and the other one for the left hand (!) op. 29, Shchedrin's 5th concerto etc... Furthermore, he used to record for Decca. He does it now for Ondine, a Finnish independent company. The whole situation doesn't look to me as progress in his career. Anyway, he might as well wish to play all these works... I do that from time to time, but at all time??? Let's see whether I'm wrong or right about his qualities, and whether people agree with me. The future will tell.

hindemith

PS: I was in a concert yesterday, listening to Herbert Blomstedt conducting the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra. He's 80 yo, and conducts with more life than most of the younger Finnish conductors I know! (yes, born in 1927!!!). He was able, as well, to endow the orchestra with this life. A brilliant moment in the careers of all the playes indeed! Furthermore, the Saint John (Johanneksenkirkko) church were the concert took place is a great location for concerts. [Pictures of it here] Lovely acoustics, and the rose shape of it gave us the opportunity to go behind the orchestra and watch the conductor. The only reason I can think, why they don't use it more often, is the small range of sight -if any at all at many seats...

Greetings from a snowy -finally- Helsinki.

buzz it!

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