News/Reviews

Dec 4, 2017

FINNISH INDEPENDENCE DAY CELEBRATIONS WITH THE SWEDISH RADIO SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA

J-P and the orchestra mark one hundred years of Finnish independence with an all-Finnish programme at Berwaldhallen on 6 December.
 
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Nov 24, 2017

Brahms: Symphony No. 2

Profil – PH17057
The pace of the Second Symphony is brisk, everything has a soft flow, carefully channeled. In the seven years that he has been at the helm of the WDR Symphony Orchestra Cologne, he has transformed it into an ensemble of astonishing agility and precision.

Fono Forum, Clemens Haustein, December 2017

Nov 22, 2017

BEETHOVEN – COLOGNE PHILHARMONIE, GERMANY

17&18 November 2017
WDR Sinfonieorchester

Remarkably, this conductor and his orchestra succeed in expressing a very individual style of playing Beethoven. More precisely, there is a paradoxical combination of sobriety and fervour to be found …

The radiance arises entirely from the very precise realisation of inner musical processes – from razor-sharp articulation, minutely and strategically contrived crescendi, elaborate transitions between the formal sections and a great tonal vitality in the details that goes to the depths of the score.

As a result, an energy is created that can not be increased further, in the fast and slow passages alike, and which sometimes makes the sound virtually explode. This is by no means a cosy Viennese Beethoven — the orchestra plays without a safety net, with the listener perched, mentally breathless, on the edge of his chair.

… “Saraste’s Beethoven” is an occasion.

20 November 2017
Markus Schwering, Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger

Nov 8, 2017

RECORDING OF BEETHOVEN CYCLE WITH WDR SINFONIEORCHESTER

J-P and WDR Sinfonieorchester embark on a recording cycle of all Beethoven’s symphonies for Haenssler.
 
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Nov 5, 2017

FACING THE MESSAGE OF BEETHOVEN

Beethoven spent his childhood and adolescent years in the electorate of Cologne; in Bonn. He was breathing a new air of freedom, as the elector of Cologne, Maximilian Franz, the brother of the Emperor of Austria, encouraged the spirit of enlightenment and independent thinking. It’s fascinating to think that Beethoven’s first impulses towards becoming a musician happened in this environment, and in this location close to where we are based, in Cologne.

He was from early on acutely aware of the fact that he was the sole successor to Mozart and Haydn, and he was conscious of his role in bringing music forwards and of developing the symphonic format. Beethoven is an important composer for both the past and the future, for even today, the orchestral symphonic tradition always goes back to him: his music provides a source of meaning and purpose for the symphonic idea. We can hear the connections, or Beethoven’s message of what a symphony is, in the music of all composers who wrote symphonies after him – most obviously Brahms, Bruckner and Sibelius, but we can also hear his motivic messages in Mahler and Schoenberg’s music.

I think every orchestra, whether it is chamber or symphonic, period or modern, Romantic or Classical, has to have its own perspective on Beethoven. When I started performing Beethoven’s symphonies with the WDR Symphony, the idea of making a complete recording cycle started developing in my mind. The idea also had a positive response from the orchestra, and together we decided that our performances should be documented.

Our musical collaboration was actually developing through performing Beethoven’s symphonies, and the conviction we felt in performing his work was also reflected in our performances of other composers’ music. In the past, I was always the most happy with the performances of Beethoven’s music with chamber orchestras – notably with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra many years ago – and these experiences gave me the courage to try his music also with symphony orchestras without compromising his message, style, or characters. Now after eight rewarding years with the WDR Symphony, I feel that the time is right to record this cycle, with this orchestra.

To me, Beethoven has always been a symbol of what a single individual with great strength and independence can contribute to this world. He has always held this meaning for me, but I feel that his music has become even more relevant today, when we need to strengthen the values of humanity and culture more than ever.

Oct 8, 2017

NEW RECORDING OF BRAHMS SYMPHONIES OUT SOON

The latest recording by Jukka-Pekka and WDR Sinfonieorchester on the Profil Haenssler label will be released on October 13 2017.
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Sep 19, 2017

Stravinsky: Le Rossignol

Orfeo – C919171A

“It is indeed a gem, beautifully polished up in this new recording. Jukka-Pekka Saraste brings out a remarkable amount of detail in the score, with each line precisely etched and vividly conveyed. The playing is superb – the twittering singsong of many solo lines strikingly alive – and the engineering is natural and detailed.”

Gramophone Magazine, Hugo Shirley, September 2017

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Aug 23, 2017

CHOPIN / SIBELIUS – USHER HALL, EDINBURGH, SCOTLAND

18 August 2017
Scottish Chamber Orchestra , Marc-André Hamelin

“Definition, drive and determination: Finnish conductor Jukka-Pekka Saraste’s evening with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra was an electrifying and constantly surprising experience. Most of all, ­perhaps, in his ­concluding Sibelius Third Symphony, which he grabbed by the scruff of its neck in an urgent, vigorously projected first movement, and which he finished in a blaze of affirmation. The SCO players lapped up Saraste’s exacting attention, with beautifully translucent but chiselled textures, and a bite to their playing that made it thrillingly present.

…. Saraste opened with an expansive Beethoven Leonore No. 3 Overture that felt like he was barely keeping the music’s surging power in check. It was an evening of bristling energy, guided and channelled by expert hands.”

21 August 2017
David Kettle, The Scotsman
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Jul 20, 2017

BRAHMS – COLOGNE PHILHARMONIE, GERMANY

13 July 2017
WDR Sinfonieorchester

“Whoever thinks that the Nordic cool of a Scandinavian conductor might affect the Romantic sound of Brahms, can rest assured given the coherent, almost song-like fluent passages, glowing horns and perfectly blended sounds…
Saraste crafted the sonorous interplay between, in his own words, optimism and pessimism, to a sculptural effect.
He and his musicians accomplished this in a sensational manner.”

15 July 2017
Olaf Weiden, Kölnische Rundschau / General-Anzeiger

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