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Finland’s foremost orchestra celebrates favorite composers of its homeland
Founded in 1882, the highly regarded Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra (HPO) has the distinction of having premiered most of the great Finnish composer Jean Sibelius’s symphonies, with the composer himself conducting. That is in fact the case for the Symphony No. 2, featured on this program and called “a confession of the soul” by the composer—although many Finns of the day interpreted the work as a call for national independence. Under the baton of the renowned Susanna Mälkki, a Helsinki native named Musical America’s “Conductor of the Year” for 2017, the HPO also performs Sibelius’s “Lemminkäinen’s Return,” the concluding movement of the composer’s Lemminkäinen Suite (Op. 22), based on the exploits of a Finnish mythic hero. Completing the program, the HPO looks to Finland’s most renowned contemporary composer, Kaija Saariaho, with a performance of her flute concerto L’Aile du songe (“Wing of the Dream”), featuring soloist Claire Chase, a MacArthur “Genius Grant” recipient praised as “the North Star of her instrument’s ever-expanding universe” (New York Times).
SIBELIUS – “Lemminkäinen’s Return”
KAIJA SAARIAHO – L’Aile du songe, Concerto for flute and orchestra
SIBELIUS – Symphony No. 2 in D Major, Op. 43