Jaakko Kuusisto

(What follows is as much a Ramble as a Concert Review.)

Friday, June 3, 2022: I watched this, http://www.colinscolumn.com/tomorrow-osmo-vanska-minnesota-orchestra-livestream-includes-jaakko-kuusisto-symphony/, primarily for the late Jaakko Kuusisto’s Symphony, written for Minnesota and Osmo Vänskä, if left unfinished at Jaakko’s death. As completed by his brother Pekka (with technical assistance), Jaakko’s Symphony – for large orchestra, including piano, celesta and harp – is, on a first listen (I’d welcome a second), attractively whimsical and picturesque (if not especially symphonic), with something poignantly Last Rites at the music’s core, with eloquent solos for various first-chair players, not least the cellist, and flickering to nothingness in conclusion. The music speaks directly, with Finnish hallmarks, not least a few Sibelian references, over twenty-five minutes and was given a dedicated premiere.

https://mnorch.vhx.tv/videos/live-6-3-vanska-and-keefe [free to watch for a week]

Also included in the concert, Mendelssohn’s expansive (thirty-eight minutes here) D-minor Concerto for Piano & Violin (1823, the composer fourteen years old), given not in its original guise with string-orchestra accompaniment but using Mendelssohn’s later additions of winds and timpani, which no-one seemed to know, except Osmo of course, not even the concert’s presenter. It’s an engaging piece, very well performed, with Erin Keefe (violin, MO concertmaster) and Juho Pohjonen as stylish and virtuoso soloists, adept in the lengthy first movement, soulful in the slow one, scintillating in the Finale.