Hufvudstadsbladet Review: "Rarities From Close And Far Away"
Mats Liljeroos from HBL was at the concert of the Helsinki Chamber Orchestra on May 31st 2019.
The Helsinki Chamber Orchestra held fast to its smart artistic policy of combining rarities with classics in its opening season's final concert. Sometimes people from outside the home range are needed - in this case the Swedish pianist and man with many ideas Martin Malmgren and the French conductor James Kahane - in order to find what is closest, and what rarities they have dug up.
The Nordic tone in Kajanus's Air elegiaque was highly appealing. I doubt however that the piece has never been performed, despite there being no documentary evidence of a performance, but it is a pearl which should be part of the domestic standard repertoire.
The same can be said of Pacius's variations, which despite its meek title is a proper virtuoso work. If the piece was written for himself, which one would have to expect, then he was truly a driven violinist, which needs to be said about Sebastian Silén as well, who impressed with a temperamental performance and, especially in Kajanus, a cultivated tone. Bohuslav Martinu's Sinfonietta "La Jolla" - next to the six symphonies and many other of his late works composed while in exile in America - can, as Prokofiev's Classical Symphony, be seen as a hommage to Haydn. Martinu is here in his most relaxed mood and Kahane took all opportunities to underline the sunny and spiritual character of the music.
Just as Martinu's symphonies, the Sinfonietta is too rarely performed, which however cannot be said about Mendelssohn's Italian Symphony. Kahane truly put the orchestra on fire - most especially in the last movement's saltarello, which was played at breakneck speed - and the touch was snazzy and jaunty, although momentarily a bit unpolished in sound and rhythm.
The young HCO team consists of mostly Finnish and Finland-based foreign musicians, and the concert, titled "From Close and Far Away", with a creatively visualized program brochure of Caspar David Friedrich's iconic Wagner-figure, was a sure reminder that the music does not know any boundaries. It will be interesting to see what one gets to encounter during the autumn season's wanderings.