Finnish conductor Susanna Mälkki leads the San Francisco Symphony this weekend in a program featuring two works by Stravinsky – his Scherzo fantastique and Le sacre du printemps (The Rite of Spring) – and piano virtuoso Garrick Ohlsson plays the Beethoven Piano Concerto No 1.
Garrick Ohlsson is no stranger to San Francisco audiences, having debuted with the Symphony in 1972 and made many welcome return visits. He is described by the music critic of the Southern California News Group as “a uniquely gifted pianist”. The Telegraph writes that his style “is rich and full”, and the Seattle Times refers to his “incredible technique with razor-sharp accuracy, producing a sound so lush it almost glistens”.
Awarded the Avery Fisher Prize in 1994, Mr Ohlsson received the 1998 University Musical Society Distinguished Artist Award in Ann Arbor, MI, and he was the 2014 recipient of the Jean Gimbel Lane Prize in Piano Performance from the Northwestern University Bienen School of Music. He retains the honor of being the only American ever to win the International Frédéric Chopin Piano Competition, a prize he was awarded in 1970. The competition, held every five years, was founded in 1926 by teacher and pianist Jerzy Zurawlew in 1926 “to sustain familiarity with the music of Fryderyk Chopin and to perpetuate the piano playing tradition that was characteristic of his style”. (Medici.tv)
Susanna Mälkki has been described by The Wall Street Journal as “one of the brightest lights in the world of classical music”, and according to a review in The Chicago Tribune, she “has an uncommon ability to create the appropriate sound picture around every score she conducts. Such was her refinement of detail that one could hear and appreciate everything that went on beneath the shimmering surface”. Currently Chief Conductor of the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra, and Principal Guest Conductor of the the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the Gulbenkian Orchestra in Portugal, Ms Mälkki was previously music director of the Ensemble InterContemporain, and artistic director of Stavanger Symphony Orchestra.
In addition to Ms Mälkki’s symphonic achievements, highlights of her 2016-17 season in the world of opera were her debut with the Metropolitan Opera conducting the first company performances of Kaija Saariaho’s L’Amour de loin, and she made a return visit to Opéra National de Paris for the world premiere of Luca Francesconi’s new work Trompe-la-mort.
Susanna Mälkki has also been nominated for a 2017 Nordic Council Music Prize – one of two nominees from Finland. The winner will be announced and the award will be made at the Finlandia Hall in Helsinki on November 1.
Susanna Mälkki leads the San Francisco Symphony, with guest pianist Garrick Ohlsson, in a program of music by Stravinsky and Beethoven at Davies Symphony Hall on June 9, 10 and 11. For more information and tickets, visit the San Francisco Symphony website.
San Francisco Symphony program notes