Concert Reviews

Dec 17, 2013

MOZART/BRUCKNER – Cologne Philharmonie, Germany

29&30 November 2013
WDR Symphony Orchestra, Cologne, José Maria Blumenschein, Junichiro Murakami

A fiasco once, a triumph now

“… the rendition by WDR Symphony orchestra under Jukka-Pekka Saraste ended with a triumph. The maestro was hailed with devotion by both audience and orchestra. For a good reason.: The “chief” had accomplished an elaborate, technically highly superb interpretation of the first “major” Bruckner Symphony. The cyclopean themes inspired by Beethoven’s 9thSymphony, the chorale, the rustic-charming Ländler – all this found adequate expression. It would have been to no avail to look for incense: a precise, slender, fine sound without pathos prevailed. … The assertion that one must have inhaled, so to say, those pre-alpine landscapes and Austrian Catholicism in order to conduct Bruckner adequately is wrong.

The concert had very winningly begun with Mozart’s Sinfonia concertante KV 364… It is remarkable how fine and lean a comparatively large non-period formation, articulating selectively, can play Mozart. Saraste should absolutely continue on that path.”

2 December 2013
Markus Schwering, Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger

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Dec 16, 2013

Schoenberg/Sibelius – Oslo Concert Hall, Norway

14 November 2013
Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra, Anu Komsi

“Saraste’s qualities, apparent from the first half of the concert, were given an even bigger canvas on which to unfold; not a single phrase sounded indifferent…and at the same time one could discern his confident sense of form within this vastness, which is in no way obvious in this piece. The expressionistic qualities in every phrase resonated with the great whole; everything fell into place.

That’s no small achievement, in repertoire which one doesn’t so often have the chance to experience in a concert hall here.”

15 November 2013
Dagbladet, Ståle Wikshåland

Nov 22, 2013

Wagner/Schumann/Brahms – Stuttgart Liederhalle, Germany

18 October 2013
WDR Symphony Orchestra, Cologne, Hélène Grimaud

“His performance within the Master Concert Series together with WDR Symphony Orchestra Cologne, whom he has served as chief conductor since 2010, was spectacular – a symphonic highlight hardly to be topped by more renowned orchestras.

Brahms’s 4th Symphony at the end has hardly ever been performed with such intrinsic logic as here. Most other conductors appear like mere time-beaters in comparison with Saraste for whom rhythmic pull is the result of conclusive phrasing, who always thinks in developments and at the same time keeps every detail of the overall sound under control. Tremendous class!”

21 October 2013
Frank Armbruster, Stuttgarter Zeitung

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Aug 31, 2013

Beethoven/Sibelius – Wiesbaden Kurhaus, Germany

30 August 2013
WDR Symphony Orchestra, Cologne, Christian Tetzlaff

“Tetzlaffs strong partners were in Wiesbaden the orchestra and its chief conductor Saraste. The overall result was one of exorbitant vitality and elasticity, sophisticated dynamics and accentuation also of the orchestra parts.”

2 September 2013
Harald Budweg, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

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May 28, 2013

Mahler Symphony No.2 – Oslo Concert Hall, Norway

23 May 2013
Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra and Choir
Øystein Fevang, Inger Dam-Jensen, Nathalie Stutzmann

“On the programme this evening was Mahler’s giant Second Symphony, a multifaceted piece, ending with perhaps one of the most glorious choral finales in all of music. It was a rather fitting piece for Saraste’s last concert as chief conductor: not only is the symphony with its theme of resurrection a rather fitting metaphor for the Oslo Philharmonic, but Saraste is also renowned for his interpretations of Mahler, of which there have been quite a few here in Oslo.

Jukka-Pekka Saraste has helped raise the musical level of the Oslo Philharmonic to quite possibly the highest they have ever been, something he definitely proved at Thursday’s concert.”

28 May 2013
Aksel Tollåli,

May 7, 2013

Brahms Piano Concerto No. 2/Sibelius Symphony No. 5 – Berlin Philharmonie, Germany

7 May 2013
Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra, Arcadi Volodos

“Steeped in tradition, the Oslo Philharmonic has nevertheless seen its sound evolve in Saraste’s hands, a sound which seemed compact, never dry, perhaps even radiating that Nordic austerity, which sits naturally with Brahms so well.”

“Jukka-Pekka Saraste conducts the music of his Finnish compatriot with great intensity. And gives the enthralled audience two encores as well.”

Badische Zeitung

Apr 19, 2013

Schoenberg/Korngold/Beethoven – Cologne Philharmonie, Germany

19 April 2013
WDR Symphony Orchestra, Cologne, Vilde Frang

“This Beethoven symphony, already poised on the brink of romance, was delivered by Saraste as straightforward and fiery. Especially the lyrical Larghetto had tremendous flair.”

22 April 2013
Kölnische Rundschau

Jan 19, 2013

Beethoven/Hakola/Shostakovich – Cologne Philharmonie, Germany

18 and 19 January 2013
WDR Symphony Orchestra, Cologne, John Storgårds

“Naturally Saraste, a violinist himself, pays extra attention to the strings. They played with such rare cohesion, delicate sound, vitality and energy, that it was a pure joy. Above all, the entire orchestra was not inattentive for a single second in the considerably demanding Shostakovich.

The frenetic applause was testament to this both physically and artistically impressive performance.”

21 January 2013
Johannes Zink, Kölnische Rundschau

Dec 17, 2011

Kurtág/Bartók/Sibelius – Barbican Hall, London

16 December 2011
BBC Symphony Orchestra, Hiromi Kikuchi, Ken Hakii

“Saraste and the BBCSO gave superbly concentrated performances of Sibelius’s symphonic thinking at its most distilled in the Sixth and Seventh Symphonies. It was compelling to hear the works together, their scale passages forming a Jacob’s ladder of awe and aspiration in the exuberant momentum of Saraste’s direction.”

19 December 2011
Hilary Finch, The Times (UK)

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