Concert Reviews

Mar 27, 2017


10 March 2017
WDR Sinfonieorchester, Christian Tetzlaff

“Ja, das war großer, erfüllter “Tschai”, eindringlich im Jedem Moment – mit satt schwelgenden Geigenkantilenen, dramaturgisch makellosen Übergängem, herrlichen Steigerungen und gnoßer Wucht der rhythmischharmonischen Vertikale.
Dem Ende des ersten Satzes wuchs die Qualität eines fast schon Mahler’schen Zusammenbruchs zu, und wie Saraste das zentrale Schicksalsmotiv zunächst als Memento mori inszenierte, diesen Effekt am Ende aber ins Triumphale umkehrte, das war intellektuell wie emotional bestechend.

Das Orchester durfte sich wieder einmal zu beglückwünschen, diesen Chef zu haben.”

“The end of the first movement had an almost Mahlerian quality … captivating both intellectually and emotionally. Once again, the orchestra could congratulate themselves on having such a chief conductor.”

13 March 2017
MaS, Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger

Mar 18, 2017


5 & 6 March 2017
Frankfurter Opern- Und Museumorchester, Anna Vinnitskaya
“Time and again, Saraste hauled off ravishing dynamic climaxes, without any danger of overstretched accentuation, as can be experienced so frequently elsewhere. The sonic image remained transparent despite its abundance.”

7 March 2017
Gerhard Schroth, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung
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Feb 23, 2017


17 & 18 February 2017
WDR Sinfonieorchester, Karita Mattila

“Jukka-Pekka Saraste has rarely seemed more inspired than on this evening. He furnished the three excerpts from the stage music for the play “Kuolema” by Arvid Järnefelt, including the famous “Valse triste”, with illustrative urgency. His involvement with Igor Stravinsky’s burlesque “Petrushka” suite seemed almost even stronger. His accurate, steadfast leadership of the orchestra…was combined with a richly colourful energy of sound and a dramatically sharpened impulsiveness. He lent Stravinsky’s music an expectionally strong development … One left the concert with a tingling sensation.”

20 February 2017
Christoph Zimmermann, Kölner General-Anzeiger/Kölnische Rundschau

Jan 20, 2017


13 & 15 January 2017
Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra

“And then came the fourth movement, full of energy: Mr. Saraste appeared to be wielding a magic wand, sweeping his hands through the air and prompting the most lively, piquant playing of the work.

I had the same thought after listening to the Sibelius, also conducted from memory. The opening movement, full of moments of tension and release, still feels like a foreshadowing of the finale, encountering a wandering bassoon solo or effervescent plucking of strings along the way.

So the finale feels like a true arrival, and the orchestra nailed it, A fully stocked horn section initiated that swan theme with restraint but purpose, heightening the majestic effect of the second statement.”

14 January 2017
Elizabeth Bloom, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Dec 18, 2016


12 & 13 December 2016
Lausanne Chamber Orchestra, Alisa Weilerstein

“It is always a joy to re-encounter Jukka-Pekka Saraste at the head of the OCL. At the age of 60, the Finnish conductor has nothing to prove anymore. He instils his long experience with symphonic phalanxes into the musicians whilst entirely complying with the contingents of a chamber orchestra. His delicate and expressive gestures as well as his rejection of pathos allow him to illuminate the various facets of Bartók’s Divertimento for Strings. …. The Lover by Sibelius, played at the beginning of the concert, exuded the same subtlety. A beautiful evening …”

14 December 2016
Julian Sykes, Le Temps

Dec 14, 2016


7 December 2016
BBC Symphony Orchestra

“Saraste’s concern for clarity paid many dividends (feathers ruffled), yet there was no lack of lyricism, tenderness or exquisiteness, and some passages were related directly back to Tchaikovsky; here were forest murmurs, lightness of touch for swiftness and plenty of drama, too, leading to an ‘Infernal Dance’ that was wild, not in speed but in temperament, menace accrued. Significantly, Saraste knocked a few minutes off the average Firebird-1910 timing, but that’s no indication of how each segment was persuasive and that everything belonged to everything else. Solos were full of character and the triumphal ending was glorious.”

“Saraste guided an impressive reading, alive to the Sturm und Drang and onomatopoeic aspects of the first movement… As virile and well-drilled as the opening Allegro spiritoso was, there was room for manoeuvre, as there was in the slow movement, turned and decorated to a nicety and warm-hearted. The Minuet was muscular, the piquant Trio at-one with its surrounds, and the Finale was ideally moderate in tempo so as to give the shortest notes a chance. There was no lack of joie de vivre, however, and this really was a thoroughly agreeable and ‘modern’ rendition of marvellous music.”

7 December 2016
Colin Anderson, Classical Source
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Oct 17, 2016


7 October 2016
Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, Chœur de Radio France, Géraldine Chauvet, Yann Beuron, Henk Neven

“Jukka-Pekka Saraste on great form, knowing well how to bring out the best in the Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, was the primary and magnificent architect of this exhilarating Roméo et Juliette.”

7 October 2016
Gilles Lesur, ConcertoNet

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May 9, 2016


29 & 30 April 2016
WDR Symphony Orchestra, Cologne, Kölner Domchor, Female voices of the WDR Rundfunkchor, Wiebke Lehmkuhl

“Happy the man able to witness this superb evening with the WDR Symphony Orchestra. Under the baton of Jukka-Pekka Saraste, Mahler’s Third gained plenty of drive. The Finnish conductor’s view of the score was defined by structural foresight and multi-dimensional sculpting. Whilst he let the double-basses play in a burrowing way, in the upper registers a certain elegance prevailed; a sense of wide breath. Fierce eruptions were wildly carved out, but never uncontrolled. Under Saraste, Mahler appeared stringent and was performed with virtuosity, with great moments of intensity in the final movement.”

2 May 2016
Matthias Corvin, Kölnische Rundschau

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Apr 10, 2016


2 & 3 April 2016
Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra, Boris Giltburg

“In the opening movement, the strings produced a rarified transparency that evoked images of icy winds blowing over snowy plains. Saraste conducted like a reserved gentleman: always in control with but a few wild gestures and exuding a collected calm, even during Sibelius’ fiercest moments. He expertly layered the composer’s icy tension. Visibly engrossed by the Rotterdam Philharmonic’s sound, Saraste sustained a fragile suspense in his ceaseless momentum as he continued with the second movement Tempo andante.”

“Saraste’s Sibelius swept you off your feet.”

6 April 2016
David Pinedo,