Concert Reviews

Apr 2, 2014

Rachmaninov/Beethoven – Cologne Philharmonie, Germany

27&28 March 2014
WDR Symphony Orchestra, Cologne, Anna Vinnitskaya

“Jukka-Pekka Saraste at the conductor’s stand endeavored to have some of the fourth symphony’s spirit resonate with the entire concert. This concerned the intonation, concise despite all the sumptuous violins, the clarity of lines and details, and altogether the relinquishment of the kind of perfumed sentiment, the bath of milk and honey, which sometimes makes Rachmaninov so unpalatable. …

Saraste continued his involvement with Beethoven by bringing the dramatically sharpened surface and the reverse parts of the fourth symphony into an exciting relation – supported by the WDR musicians with their rousingly splendid playing.”

31 March 2014
Markus Schwering, Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger

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Mar 25, 2014

Mahler Symphony No.6 – Oslo Concert Hall, Norway

strong>6 March 2014
Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra

‘’…an experience testing the limits of endurance…”

“From earlier meetings I often think of Mahler’s sixth symphony as Saraste’s speciality. After this performance, that impression is only more strongly reinforced. Further, the Oslo Philharmonic rose to the challenges posed by both Mahler and Saraste. With Saraste more energetic on the podium than I can remember ever having experienced him before, the musicians gave it everything they had. The result was devastating, ranging from the most delicately tender to the overwhelming; cascades of sound drenching us without any significant attempts by the composer to soften the effect.

Mahler’s sixth symphony can only sound like this if there is a good rapport between conductor and orchestra. On Thursday night this was at its very best.”

8 March 2014
Ståle Wikshåland, Dagbladet

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Jan 22, 2014

Rachmaninov/Shostakovich/Prokofiev – Salle Pleyel, Paris, France

10 January 2014
Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, Natalia Gutman

“Music Director of the Cologne Symphony Orchestra since 2010, Jukka-Pekka Saraste is certainly one of the most interesting conductors of the moment. Regularly invited by Radio France Philharmonic, the intensity of his interpretations confirm each time his ability to blend by osmosis into the most complex of music.

In a programme which was Russian through and through – where Isle of the Dead Rachmaninov sat alongside Symphony No. 3 “The Fiery Angel ” by Prokofiev and Shostakovich’s 1st Concerto for cello – the Finnish conductor demonstrated a feverishness and controlled violence culminating in the finale (Allegro agitato) of Prokofiev’s work, sustained by an infallible hand. The energy but also the expressive clarity of the reading, the quality of the phrases and the sense of structure, pushed the Philharmonic to the extreme, even if it meant putting brass and woodwinds in danger.

In the Concerto op. 107 by Shostakovich…the experience of Saraste, who never forces the tone, allowed an accompaniment of foolproof subtlety to be woven, testimony to the consummate art of conducting.”

13 January 2014
Michel Le Naour,

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Dec 19, 2013

Saariaho/Brahms/Stravinsky – Auditorium Orchestre National de Lyon, France

12&14 December 2013
Orchestre Nationale de Lyon, Anu Komsi, Vadim Gluzman

“…Saraste offered a demonstration programme that culminated in a fabulous recital of the full-length ballet The Firebird…

In this performance The National Orchestra of Lyon attained a superlative level as much in their congruence as in their individuality…inherently brilliant in terms of the accuracy, power and management of the orchestral fireworks”.

16 December 2013
Pierre-Jean Tribot,

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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,