Rodrigo and Schubert with Saimaa Sinfonietta
The second last concert of my spring season was a Saimaa Sinfonietta concert, which is the regular collaboration St Michel Strings has with the Lappeenranta City Orchestra. Despite the traveling and other complications in the organizing side, these concerts have been very rewarding to the musicians in both orchestras, because they allow more variety in the repertoire, and more comfort especially for the string players.
One of the things that makes me happy these days is the chance to work with people I know from my student times. For that reason for example the Turku Philharmonic is a nice place to return to, with half a dozen of players who studied in the same schools with me. This time, too I felt lucky, since my soloist was Petri Kumela with whom I share the past in the Helsinki Conservatory back when I was still a cellist and did not have any interest in conducting. Petri is an excellent classical guitarist whose recordings have gathered rave reviews in the recent years.
Our program was the ever-popular Aranjuez Concerto by Rodrigo, and the youthful 2nd symphony of Schubert. I am still on a roll learning Schubert's music since I heard the excellent performances of Schubert's 1st and 6th symphonies by Riccardo Muti in Chicago a few years back. The performance in Lappeenranta was not at the Town Hall as usual, but in an old wooden church. Some of my friends from the local aikido club came to listen and one of them even wrote a blog entry about my concert!
The second concert was in the familiar acoustics of the Mikaeli concert hall in Mikkeli. One interesting thing about classical guitar as a solo instrument is how to balance it against the orchestra, which in case of Rodrigo's concerto is not even that big. Petri Kumela helped us a little by using a high end amplifier to boost the guitar's sound just a little for the loud sections. I am just wondering how did people do it in the 40's when amplifying was out of the question.
I really enjoyed this cooperation and we also got nice reviews. I right away had a chance to hear Petri Kumela again, because after the concert both of us headed towards St. Petersburg, me to listen to Sergey Prokofiev's 125th birthday celebrations (a marathon of concerts by Gergiev and the Mariinsky Orchestra) and Petri to play some modern guitar pieces and flamenco at the Elena Obraztsova Cultural Center.