Finns prepare two symphonic world premieres

Finns prepare two symphonic world premieres


norman lebrecht

August 22, 2015

The Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra kicks off its season with the world premiere of Kalevi Aho’s Symphony No. 16, conducted by Hannu Lintu. Written for mezzosoprano, 60 strings and percussion, it sets poems by Gertrud Kolmar, who died in Auschwitz.

Weeks later, the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra under John Storgårds opens its season with the word premiere of Paavo Heininen’s Symphony No. 6.
Is there another city in the world that still fights over new symphonies?
helsinki snow


  • Peter Phillips says:

    I don’t know about fighting over symphonies but on December 3 the Bergen Philharmonic are doing three works by local, living composers. No programme “sweeteners” and Edward Gardner on the podium. That,too, is a statement of faith.

  • Daniel Rye says:

    And don’t forget the world premiere of Faroese composer, Sunleif Rasmussen’s 2nd Symphony which opens the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra’s new season on 9 September (repeated the next day).

  • John Borstlap says:

    Aho and Heininen are sensitive and really musically gifted composers…. Of Rasmussen only a rather silly recorder ‘concerto’ could be found on YouTube.

    The Scandinavians seem to have got a better take on contemporary music. Maybe the nordic climate keeps their heads cooler?

    • Martin says:

      May I ask you to elaborate more on the silly recorder concerto? What makes it silly?

      • John Borstlap says:

        You have angry outbursts by the orchestra alternating with little tweets of disconnected peeps without any acoustical substance from a very little and thin recorder. Musically it does not make sense, and acoustically you hear two different types of sound production. The best the recorder can hope for in this piece is some acoustic decoration, but what would be the point of it? Maybe the subject of the work would justify such inequalities…. but woud it contribute to purely musical interest? The recorder is really made for chamber music contexts where it can be properly heard and come into its own right – that is why baroque music works so well with recorders, then the sound is in balance with the other instruments, always small ensembles in rather small spaces.

    • Tim says:

      You will find many more Rasmussen recordings on Spotify, including the Symphony No 1, with Danish National SO and Hannu Lintu. May allow a more fully-formed opinion.

  • Paavo says:

    The Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra has a major contemporary work in the program almost every time before the christmas, some of them premieres: Aho Symphony 16, Jukka Tiensuu False Memories I-III, Zimmermann Photoptosis, Lutoslawski Symphony 3, Seppo Pohjola Piano Concerto, Antti Auvinen New Work, Unsuk Chin Clarinet Concerto, Sallinen Symphony 8, Sebastian Fagerlund Stonework, Magnus Lindberg Cello Concerto 2, Saariaho Mirage.

  • Nordic musician says:

    ..and Hki Phil, except the two new world premiere symphonies by Heininen and Rasmussen (who is – come on – a major nordic composer! His 1st symphony got the prestigious Nordic Council Music award) this autumn new works also by Tan Dun, Yrjö Hjelt (world premiere), Einojuhani Rautavaara, Rodion Shtshedrin and Jonathan Harvey. Nothing extraordinary with this ; contemporary music is part of normal finnish programming policy, all over the country.

    • John Borstlap says:

      What the [redacted] is going-on up-there! While old people are bickering in the worn-down salon, a future is being shaped in the kitchen.