CD Reviews

Oct 26, 2016



“Saraste leads the WDR Sinfonieorchester Köln in this performance for radio broadcast, and he states that it is a privilege to conduct this orchestra, which made many great Bruckner recordings under Günter Wand. If there is a little of Wand’s style in Saraste’s expansive phrasing and warm orchestral blend, it may be because he grew up listening to Wand’s recordings, so it’s fair to say that he is keeping a great tradition alive. The performance rates high marks for Saraste’s scrupulous interpretation and the orchestra’s committed playing”

AllMusic, Blair Sanderson, October 2016

Saraste’s very personal Bruckner

“The Finnish conductor has a rather relaxed, unagitated approach to Bruckner’s monumental music. His phrases are generous, he elicits a round, warm sound with a slightly dark timbre from the orchestra, takes a little edge off the effervescant sound mass and entirely refrains from a triumphant attitude.

…Bruckner’s Eighth gains a rhythmical sharpness here. This becomes most evident in the Scherzo, but no less in the three remaining movements. Saraste uncovers structures frequently buried by other conductors. Yet, he does not do this out of pure lust for dissection and never loses sight of the entirety of the work.”

Pizzicato, Guy Engels, December 2016

Jan 31, 2015

Mahler: Symphony No. 5


Profil Medien – PH14045

“Instinctive Mahlerians take their time, they breathe in the atmosphere and feel the subtext. In the midst of the second movement’s impassioned onslaught…Saraste finds within it something so personal and so inward-looking that it is as if he is placing all his Mahlerian credentials on the line in that one passage.

But there is better to come…Saraste’s reading dances through the finale, which feels, as it should, thoroughly liberating. The playing of the WDR SO, always top-class, has acquired an irresistible sweep along the way and the glorious release of the coda (given an expansive embrace by Saraste) is as good as it gets.

..Saraste has the insight and individuality…Mahler collectors would be well-advised to give him a spin.”

Gramophone Magazine, Edward Seckerson, January 2015

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May 27, 2013

Brahms: Symphonies Nos. 1 & 3


Profil Medien – PH13028

“Saraste’s WDR Sinfonieorchester Köln is on magnificent form in performances that feel bold, urgent and highly charged…this is an excellent release that I will reach for often.”

MusicWeb International, 27th May 2013

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Feb 15, 2013

Daniel Müller-Schott plays Britten & Prokofiev


Orfeo – C847121A

“[Müller-Schott and Saraste are] inclined to approach the work as a standard romantic concerto. The tone is rich and warm, the orchestral sound founded on the strings, with wind and brass more distant. Müller-Schott makes the music sing…Saraste backs him up wholeheratedly, though the WDR Symphony Orchestra’s very decent playing is short on rhythmic cut-and-thrust.”

Gramophone Magazine, February 2013

Feb 15, 2012

Jukka-Pekka Saraste conducts Sibelius & Lutosławski


LPO – LPO0057

“This has to be one of the best recordings around of Sibelius’s Fifth. And Lutoslawki’s Concerto can never have been more brilliantly played.”

Classic FM Magazine, December 2011 ****

“Pohjola’s Daughter is very well served here. Jukka-Pekka Saraste’s 2008 RFH performance is electric – fast and exciting where it needs to be, with the darkest, most sinister of openings…Lutosławski’s Concerto for Orchestra makes an unusual coupling. Saraste’s reading is sleazier, grimier than I’ve heard it, moving with a menacing swagger.”

The Arts Desk, 19th November 2011

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Jan 21, 2012

Stravinsky: The Firebird & Scherzo fantastique


Profil Medien – PH11041

“Saraste directs a brilliant performance of both works, skilfully recorded so as to do justice to the suitably fantastic orchestration of this fantastic tale…The ‘Khorovod of the Princesses’ may sound more ‘Western’ than it does in Russian performances but it is gracefully and well done, and Saraste is excellent at keeping the sense of drama driving forward throughout the ballet’s length.”

Gramophone Magazine, January 2012

“Jukka-Pekka Saraste coaxes silvery, shimmering colours, glittering strings and wind and a lively, effervescent pace from the orchestra’s highly precise playing … Jukka-Pekka Saraste combines orchestral precision in the blending of the sounds and moods with a technically impeccable shading of the instruments and tone.”

Jul 28, 2011

Mahler: Symphony No. 6 in A minor ‘Tragic’


Simax – PSC1316

“The team’s foothold on the first three movement is sure and unexaggerated…But it’s the finale, to which all roads must seem to lead, where Saraste pulls all the stops out – utterly compelling…String welters in the wake of the first two hammer blows…have never sounded clearer…Perhaps the sound is a shade reverberant…but it allows all the details in Saraste’s magnificently thorough interpretation to shine through.”

BBC Music Magazine, June 2011 *****

“He inherited a band that, under Jansons, had become one of the finest in Europe. Standards have slipped not one iota. He negotiates the forbidding psychological and musical terrain of this symphony with the same mix of passion, flair and intelligence Jansons showed, the impact of the work magnified by a sure grasp of its sprawling forms, clarity of inner detail and well-judged tempi.”

Sunday Times, 15th May 2011 ****

“You can certainly hear right into the tumult, so clear and open is Saraste’s layering of the texture”

Gramophone Magazine, July 2011

Mar 28, 2011

Mahler: Symphony No. 9 in D major


Profil Medien – PH10035

“Mahler is all about weighing and balancing the extremes…and Saraste’s judgement in such matters is sharp and instinctive…[he] creates great atmosphere in [the] “lost” moments, time and pulse suspended like an out-of-body experience…it’s the tension between defiance and resignation that really shows Saraste’s perception and understanding.”

Gramophone Magazine, Editor’s Choice, March 2011

Mar 28, 2010

Silvestrov – Symphonies Nos. 4 & 5



“A symphonic logic that Jukka-Pekka Saraste amply conveys in these responsive performances. Wholly natural sound… and informative notes round out an impressive release.”

Gramophone Magazine, March 2010