Sibelius 5 in Jyväskylä
At the concert hall lounge in Jyväskylä. Photo by Tuukka Järventausta.
The previous time I worked with Jyväskylä Sinfonia was almost exactly four years ago, when the program included the super-difficult 3rd Chamber Symphony of Kalevi Aho. So, with a new cello concerto in the program it was no wonder when I arrived at the rehearsal hall one of the violinists greeted me with "it seems you like to conduct difficult music"! Well, I don't choose to do so, but it seems I have become the conductor of choice to many people in the business when a new difficult work has to be performed. So far I have managed to avoid the "modern music specialist" stamp by programming a healthy dose of Beethoven, Brahms, Sibelius, Mahler and Wagner on the side!
This time too, the main work was Sibelius' beautiful 5th symphony, which I just recently conducted in Cleveland, and altogether this was the third time I conducted this piece in concert. We opened the concert with the seldom played Beethoven overture "Consecration of the House", and the "difficult work" was a brand new cello concerto by Paavo Korpijaakko, and it was performed by orchestra's co-principal cellist Ilkka Kauppi. The audience in Jyväskylä is highly supportive of their orchestra, so it was no wonder that the concert was sold out. In a good situation like this the orchestra should seriously try to arrange repeat performances at least for the most popular programs.
My week in Jyväskylä was rewarding not only musically, but the administration provided me with some extra entertainment by telling they would like to have new press photos of me for their program leaflet. As I was totally not ready for photos they very quickly scheduled an appointment at the hairdresser as well as a trip to a local menswear shop! I was very amused by the whole process, but I got a lot of positive feedback about the new photos.
The concert itself went very well and we got a great review in the local newspaper (see here if you read Finnish). Hopefully we will get another chance to play the cello concerto with some other orchestras - when a soloist has put hundreds of hours in practicing it, it is worth giving it a couple of tries. Let me know if you have contact with an orchestra that wants to know more!