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Wed 07/02/2024 19:00 - 20:30


Pekka Kuusisto invites into the concert hall a quiet, waking Faun and other mythical creatures coloured by French impressionism.

Our celebration of the queen of instruments continues. Composer Nico Muhly and organist James McVinnie are two friends who share a love for the music of English Renaissance master Orlando Gibbons. Muhly composed his own concerto based on a song by their mutual favourite composer. Pekka Kuusisto invites into the concert hall a quiet, waking Faun and other mythical creatures coloured by French impressionism.

Claude Debussy: L’après-midi d'un faune

L’après-midi d'un faune (The Afternoon of a Faun) by Claude Debussy (1862–1918) is far greater a landmark work in the history of music than its ten-minute length would suggest. The writer and critic Paul Griffiths even went so far as to say that the first four bars on the solo flute marked the birth of modern music. The piece was originally to have served as the prelude to a three-movement work for orchestra based on a poem of the same name by Stéphane Mallarmé, but the second movement (Interlude) and finale (Paraphrase) were never forthcoming. Tonality and regular rhythms become as hazy in the piece as the faun slumbering lazily in the hot summer’s afternoon. The critics at the time borrowed a term, impressionist, from painting to describe it, and though this is a word frequently used in speaking of Debussy, he personally rejected it. In vain, as we know so well. 

Nico Muhly: Register

Register by American composer Nico Muhly (b. 1981) was co-commissioned by the Los Angeles Philharmonic Association, Gustavo Dudamel, the Philadelphia Orchestra and the Southbank Centre. It was also inspired by his organist friend and colleague James McVinnie, who premiered it at the Walt Disney Hall in 2018.

“I’ve always treated the organ as an early version of the synthesizer,” says Muhly. “Like in speech, changes in tone and style can be subtle or jarring, with sudden asides and rapid shifts in tack. The piece is built around three distinct cycles of chords: one, large and ascending, with a sense of slight menace; the second, bright, descending, and brilliant; and the third, a sparkling perpetual-motion machine, in whose genetic past is a Pavane in G minor by Orlando Gibbons (1583–1625). Despite the power of the modern organ, the piece ends with a glance towards the Jacobean period, with strings played without vibrato, and the organ in its smallest, most understated register.

Maurice Ravel: Ma mère l’Oye

Ma mère l’Oye (Mother Goose) by Maurice Ravel (1875–1937) draws on well-known age-old folk tales. It was originally a suite in five movements for piano four hands dedicated to a friend’s two children but Ravel later expanded it into a half-hour ballet by orchestrating it and adding a prelude and interludes. Like the stories on which it is based, Mother Goose has become a classic.

The prelude leads us into an enchanted garden, giving us glimpses of the characters we are about to meet. The first is the Sleeping Beauty: we see her prick her finger on the spinning wheel and fall into a hundred-year sleep (scenes 1 & 2). Scene 3 presents the dialogues between Beauty and the Beast, who turns out to be a handsome prince in disguise. Scene 4 features Little Tom Thumb, who gets lost in the forest because the birds have eaten the crumbs he sprinkled along the path to show him the way home. Scene 5, the climax of the ballet, is based on the story of Laideronette, a pretty little girl who gets turned into an ugly one but breaks the spell and becomes pretty again as the Empress of the Pagodas (not temples but little porcelain figures). A trumpet calls us back to the enchanted garden. It is morning, the birds are singing and the Prince has come to wake the Sleeping Beauty with his kiss. Our journey in the land of dreams has ended. 

Violin 1
Pekka Kauppinen 
Jan Söderblom 
Eija Hartikainen 
Katariina Jämsä 
Maiju Kauppinen 
Elina Lehto 
Jani Lehtonen 
Kalinka Pirinen 
Petri Päivärinne 
Satu Savioja 
Elina Viitasaari 
Totti Hakkarainen
Angeles Salas Salas
Emma Vähälä
Sirkku Helin
Marie Stolt

Violin 2
Anna-Leena Haikola 
Kamran Omarli 
Teija Kivinen 
Heini Eklund 
Maaria Leino
Teppo Ali-Mattila
Eva Ballaz
Liam Mansfield
Siiri Rasta
Krista Rosenberg
Terhi Ignatius
Harry Rayner
Virpi Taskila
Mathieu Garguillo

Torsten Tiebout 
Petteri Poijärvi 
Lotta Poijärvi
Aulikki Haahti-Turunen
Kaarina Ikonen
Tiila Kangas
Ulla Knuuttila
Carmen Moggach
Hajnalka Standi-Pulakka
Liisa Orava
Aida Hadzajlic
Tuukka Susiluoto

Lauri Kankkunen 
Beata Antikainen
Basile Ausländer
Mathias Hortling
Veli-Matti Iljin
Jaakko Rajamäki
Ilmo Saaristo
Saara Särkimäki
Aslihan Gencgonül
Fransien Paananen

Ville Väätäinen 
Tuomo Matero
Paul Aksman
Eero Ignatius
Venla Lahti
Akseli Porkkala
Eero-Kalle Bergman
Teemu Kauppinen
Elina Raijas 
Niamh Mc Kenna
Päivi Korhonen

Hannu Perttilä
Jussi Jaatinen
Paula Malmivaara

Osmo Linkola 
Heikki Nikula
Laure Paris

Markus Tuukkanen
Erkki Suomalainen

Ville Hiilivirta
Jonathan Nikkinen
Sam Parkkonen
Ingrid Aukner

Thomas Bugnot 
Mika Tuomisalo
Pasqual Llopis Diago

Valtteri Malmivirta 
Anu Fagerström
Teppo Alestalo

Cornelius Jacobeit

Tomi Wikström 

Mikael Sandström 
Xavi Castelló Aràndiga
Pasi Suomalainen
Alex Martin Agustin

Bengi Canatan
Saara Olarte

Mirka Viitala


Pekka Kuusisto
James McVinnie


    Claude Debussy
    Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun
    Nico Muhly
    Register, concerto for organ and orchestra (first performance in Finland)
    Maurice Ravel
    Ma mére L'Oye, Mother Goose, ballet
Series I
Musiikkitalo Concert Hall
Pekka Kuusisto
James McVinnie
Claude Debussy
Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun
Nico Muhly
Register, concerto for organ and orchestra (first performance in Finland)
Maurice Ravel
Ma mére L'Oye, Mother Goose, ballet