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Fokus Sibelius II

Thu 14/12/2023 19:00 - 21:00


The optimistism in Sibelius’s second symphony shined a light on the national hopes of Finns in the midst of Russian repression.

Jean Sibelius composed his second and third symphonies at the dawn of the 20th century. The optimistic opening and closing movements of the second symphony shine a light on the national hopes of Finns in the midst of Russian repression. In the same decade, Alban Berg composed songs from which he selected seven to perform with an orchestra. Soprano Hanna-Elisabeth Müller is opening the doors of the world's leading opera houses one after another.

Jukka-Pekka Saraste

Jukka-Pekka Saraste, now beginning his term as Chief Conductor and Artistic Director of the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra, has established himself as one of the outstanding conductors of his generation. Born in Heinola, Finland, in 1956, he began his career as a violinist. Today, he is renowned as an artist of exceptional versatility and breadth. He maintains a particularly strong connection to the works of Beethoven, Bruckner, Shostakovich, Stravinsky and Sibelius and is internationally celebrated for his interpretations of Mahler. During the 2023/2024 season, together with the HPO, Saraste will delve deeper into the symphonic heritage of Sibelius, Mahler and Bruckner over several extended concert periods, as well as highlight composers and music of our own time.

As head of the Artistic Leadership Team of the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra, Saraste emphasises the importance of music for both society and individuals.

”Music is a particularly strong part of Finnish culture, and the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra itself plays a significant role in building our identities. As I begin my term as Chief Conductor, I want to engage in the orchestra’s efforts to be the orchestra of all Helsinki residents. The brainstorming between the Artistic Leadership Team and members of the orchestra has been very close. Experiencing music as part of a community is one of the greatest things an orchestra can offer its listeners.”

Jukka-Pekka Saraste’s previous positions include the principal conductorships of the WDR Symphony Orchestra in Cologne, the Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra, the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra, the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, and the Scottish Chamber Orchestra. He has also served as Principal Guest Conductor of the BBC Symphony Orchestra. As guest conductor he appears with the major orchestras worldwide and in recent years conducted the likes of the Orchestre de Paris, the London Philharmonic Orchestra, the Tonhalle-Orchester Zürich, the Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin, the Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra and the NHK Symphony Orchestra.

Saraste considers it important to coach and mentor musicians at the beginning of their careers. He is a founding member of the LEAD! Foundation, a mentorship programme for young conductors and soloists that has run projects in Sweden, Switzerland, Germany and Bulgaria, amongst others. The LEAD! Masterclass in summer 2023 was held once again in conjunction with the annual Fiskars Summer Festival, where a multinational symphony orchestra of young musicians worked under the direction of Saraste and guest artists.

Jukka-Pekka Saraste has been awarded for his merits in the field of music with the Pro Finlandia Prize, the Finnish State Prize for Music and the Commander of the Order of the Lion of Finland.


Hanna-Elisabeth Müller

Hanna-Elisabeth Müller is a German soprano. Her versatile concert repertoire includes soprano parts of numerous oratorios and masses, as well as orchestral lieder, recital songs, and arias.

Müller’s university teacher in singing was Rudolf Piernay. Müller attended master classes by notable figures such as Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, Júlia Várady, Elly Ameling, and Thomas Hampson.

Müller’s breakthrough was in 2014 at the Salzburg Easter Festival, where she debuted as Zdenka in Arabella. She impressed both the audience and critics and was named Young Artist of the Year by the magazine Opernwelt. From 2012 to 2016, she was part of the ensemble at the Bavarian State Opera in Munich, Germany.

Müller has performed with renowned international orchestras and on famous stages, such as the Bavarian State Opera; Teatro alla Scala in Milan; the Zürich Opera House; the New York Metropolitan; De Singel in Antwerp; Teatro de la Zarzuela in Madrid; and the Royal Festival Hall and Wigmore Hall in London.

Müller’s concert at Musiikkitalo marks her debut with the Helsinki Philharmonic.

Biography - Hanna-Elisabeth Müller (hannaelisabethmueller.de)

Jean Sibelius: Symphony No. 3

The swelling strains of his first and second symphonies had made Jean Sibelius a national icon, so the third (1907), cautiously pointing to a less lavish future idiom, came as something of a surprise. The critics shook their heads and composers such as Rimsky-Korsakov asked him why he did not write in the usual way, telling him that the audience would not be able to follow or understand his symphony. This criticism must, however, be read in its temporal context, for it was in complete contrast to the mammoth works of such contemporaries as Rachmaninoff, Glière and especially Mahler. The romantic symphony was, however, on the way out. Sibelius, on meeting Mahler, said he admired the austerity and profound logic of a symphony in which all the motifs are interconnected. But Mahler disagreed: “No,” he said. “A symphony must be like the world. It must embrace everything.”

Sibelius’s third does not embrace everything, but nor does it lack anything. In 1940, by which time his pen had been gathering dust for a decade already, Sibelius recalled his symphony’s reception and Rimsky-Korsakov’s fatherly advice. “And now,” said Sibelius, “I am certain that my symphonies are played more than his.”

Alban Berg: Seven Early Songs

Alban Berg (1885–1935) began writing songs at an early age. In 1927, he published seven of them together, originally for voice and piano but now revised and orchestrated. They do not really constitute a cycle, the only thing they have in common being their topics: love and nature. While the chromatic counterpoint points to Schönberg, the music itself is evocative of the Late Romantics and the orchestration of Mahler.

The words of Nacht (Night) are by Carl Hauptmann, and those of Schilflied (Song Amid the Reeds), in relaxed, erotic mood by Nikolaus Lenau. The melodic serenade Die Nachtigall (The Nightingale) is a setting of a poem by Theodor Storm, and to Berg’s chagrin, it became the most popular of the set. The central Traumgekrönt (Crowned in Dream, Rainer Maria Rilke) is an intensive love song, while Im Zimmer (Indoors, Johannes Schlaf) has a touch of ironic musical naturalism: a ticking clock and a spluttering flame. The expressive Liebesode (Ode to Love, Otto Erich Hartleben) is followed by a passionate Sommertage (Summer Days), a setting of a poem by Paul Hohenberg.

Jean Sibelius: Symphony No. 2 in D, Op. 43

Had Jean Sibelius (1865–1957) not composed his seven symphonies, he might never have been more than one of the minor national treasures that abound in the historical annals of small countries. He was a true National-Romantic and had, even before composing his symphonies, left a deep imprint on the Finnish DNA with his Kullervo, Lemminkäinen, and En Saga, but his first two symphonies, written at around the turn of the century, introduced him to the world as a great new symphonist.

His first symphony (1899) was a turning point in that it incorporated elements already familiar abroad but as yet unknown in Finnish music. Plumbing the very depths of the Finnish soul, and a work of sometimes stark beauty, it made Sibelius a symphonist who caught the attention of the outside world and turned European eyes towards the far North. The second symphony (1902/1903) took an even bigger step towards the international arena, and the idiom of Pyotr Tchaikovsky in particular. Sibelius conducted the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra in the premiere of his second symphony in Helsinki on March 8, 1902. It has since been a ‘must’ on the Orchestra’s tours abroad and the symphony performed by the HPO more than any other in its 140-year history.

Like Tchaikovsky decades before, Sibelius travelled to Italy. He there became immersed in the story of the libertine Don Giovanni and mulled over the ominous, apocalyptic apparition that came to escort the Don to the underworld as punishment for his deeds. On his return to Finland, Sibelius completed his four-movement symphony. He insisted that it did not, as such, have any extra-musical associations, and that these had at most just fuelled his own inspiration. The symphony does indeed resonate at a different frequency in every listener; some have described it as a shaman’s drum beat that sends the Finns into a trance. Robert Kajanus, a conductor friend of Sibelius and founder of the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra, said that it aroused in the listener a picture of the future of an independent nation. The conductor Simon Parmet saw it as a song of praise for summer and the joy of life. For Sibelius himself it was his “soul’s confession”.

Violin 1
Pekka Kauppinen 
Jan Söderblom 
Eija Hartikainen 
Katariina Jämsä 
Maiju Kauppinen 
Helmi Kuusi
Elina Lehto 
Ilkka Lehtonen 
Jani Lehtonen 
Kari Olamaa 
Kalinka Pirinen 
Petri Päivärinne 
Satu Savioja 
Totti Hakkarainen
Siljamari Heikinheimo
Mari Poll-Novakovic

Violin 2
Teija Kivinen 
Heini Eklund 
Elina Viitasaari 
Maaria Leino
Teppo Ali-Mattila
Eva Ballaz
Matilda Haavisto
Liam Mansfield
Siiri Rasta
Krista Rosenberg
Terhi Ignatius
Harry Rayner
Virpi Taskila
Tuomas Ikonen

Atte Kilpeläinen 
Torsten Tiebout 
Petteri Poijärvi 
Lotta Poijärvi
Tuomas Huttunen
Ulla Knuuttila
Carmen Moggach
Mariette Reefman
Hajnalka Standi-Pulakka
Liisa Orava
Vuokko Lahtinen
Santtu Pozdniakovas

Lauri Kankkunen 
Tuomas Ylinen 
Beata Antikainen
Basile Ausländer
Mathias Hortling
Veli-Matti Iljin
Jaakko Rajamäki
Ilmo Saaristo
Saara Särkimäki
Joanna Hanhikoski

Ville Väätäinen 
Adrian Rigopulos
Tuomo Matero
Mehdi Nejjoum-Barthélémy
Paul Aksman
Eero Ignatius
Juraj Valencik
Hugh Klüger
Niamh Mc Kenna
Jenny Villanen

Hannu Perttilä
Paula Malmivaara

Osmo Linkola 
Heikki Nikula
Nora Niskanen

Mikko-Pekka Svala 
Noora Van Dok
Erkki Suomalainen

Mika Paajanen 
Ville Hiilivirta
Miska Miettunen
Jonathan Nikkinen
Sam Parkkonen

Pasi Pirinen 
Thomas Bugnot 
Mika Tuomisalo
Obin Meurin

Valtteri Malmivirta 
Anu Fagerström
Jussi Vuorinen

Ilkka Marttila

Tomi Wikström 
Mikael Sandström

Saara Olarte

Minna Koskimies



Jukka-Pekka Saraste
Hanna-Elisabeth Müller


    Jean Sibelius
    Symphony No. 3
    Alban Berg
    Seven Early Songs
    Jean Sibelius
    Symphony No. 2
Series II
Jukka-Pekka Saraste
Hanna-Elisabeth Müller
Jean Sibelius
Symphony No. 3
Alban Berg
Seven Early Songs
Jean Sibelius
Symphony No. 2