Alexander returns to Luxembourg’s Orchestre Philharmonique (OPL) this week for a programme entitled “Helsinki to California’. The concert pays tribute to fabulous Finnish composers past and present, with music not only by Jean Sibelius, but also by contemporary voices Esa-Pekka Salonen, California based for a long time, and Kalevi Aho, whose work is performed here by star percussionist Martin Grubinger.
Salonen’s work ‘Helix’ was written for Valery Gergiev and the World Orchestra for Peace (an ensemble of which Alexander was a member) and was premiered at the BBC Proms in August 2005. It is a 10 minute work of perpetually increasing speed, representing the music building momentum and ‘spiralling’ ever more tightly until it ultimately implodes.
The title of Kalevi Aho’s Percussion Concerto, Sieidi, is Sámi and denotes an ancient cult place such as an unusually shaped rock, sometimes also a special rock face or even a whole mountain fell. It is an epic single movement work of nearly 40 minutes, which demands a huge amount from soloist and orchestra alike. The work was written for Colin Currie, with whom Alexander has performed it on several occasions, and was premiered in 2012.
The programme is rounded out by Sibelius’s effervescent 5th Symphony, a work which Alexander regularly revisits.