Helsinki Debut

March 8, 2018

Alexander makes his debut in Finland this week, performing an all-German programme with the Helsinki Philharmonic.

The programme begins with Wolfgang Rihm‘s 2002 score ‘Verwandlung’, a fifteen minute work for symphony orchestra that echoes motifs of Mahler, Strauss, Bruckner and Berg in a sound world that is distant and dream-like. Written as a seventy-fifth birthday tribute to his fellow composer Wilhelm Killmayer, Rihm wrote at the time: ‘Killmayer’s music looks nowhere for protection, least of all by hiding behind technique… Everything is open, transparent – if you will, defenceless. But of such great strength in itself.’

Strength in this piece is achieved with a relatively modest orchestra, more on a Beethoven than a Strauss-Mahler scale. Moreover, there are no tuttis; rather, the ensemble is constantly changing, with only the horns and the strings as more or less permanent players. The resulting fluidity of colour may be one connotation of the title, which means ‘transformation’.

Alexander and the Helsinki Philharmonic will then be joined by pianist Inon Barnatan, who will interpret Beethoven’s 3rd Concerto in c-minor, a work which shares much musical DNA with Mozart’s own Concerto in the same key. Barnatan and Shelley will be working together for the first time in this concert.

The evening concludes with a performance of Schumann’s 3rd Symphony. Although followed by the 4th in the numbering, this was the last of Schumann’s symphonies and was written during his tenure as kapellmeister in Düsseldorf (the work is also known as the Rhenish, after the river that flows through that city). Alexander studied  at the Robert-Schumann-Hochschule für Musik in Düsseldorf and for many years led his own chamber orchestra – the Schumann Camerata! For details of the concert and tickets, please visit the Helsinki Philharmonic website.