Finnish star with Britten Sinfonia

TONY COOPER The Britten Sinfonia's concert on Friday February 2 in St Andrew's Hall, Norwich, brings to the city for the first time young Finnish violinist Pekka Kuusisto who embarked upon his international career just over a decade ago at the age of 19 and set the world alight.

TONY COOPER

The Britten Sinfonia's concert on Friday February 2 in St Andrew's Hall, Norwich, brings to the city for the first time young Finnish violinist Pekka Kuusisto who embarked upon his international career just over a decade ago at the age of 19 and set the world alight. It's no wonder, then, that he stormed to the podium a couple of years ago winning the coveted Sibelius violin competition - the first Finn to do so.

Kuusisto, who performs regularly with some of the world's leading orchestras and with his regular partner Raija Kerppo, has given recitals at the Wigmore Hall, London and the Chatelet, Paris. Along with his brother Jaakko, he's joint artistic director of the Lake Tuusula Chamber Music Festival in Finland.

Aside from his classical activities, Kuusisto is a devotee of many other musical styles including folk, jazz and electronic music. Last season he appeared at London's Barbican with Finnish electronic jazz group, Rinneradio, as part of Herbie Hancock's festival.


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He has arranged an eclectic programme of works for his Norwich debut opening with a work written by fellow Finn, Einojuhani Rautavaara, entitled The Fiddlers, an illuminating nine-minute piece written in 1952 and a miniature portrait of folkloric fiddlers influenced by the composer's youthful encounters with folk tunes gathered from the South Ostrobothnian region of his country.

The programme continues with JS Bach's second violin concerto in E major. Despite the wealth of compositions he left in his wake, his concerti are relatively few in number. But although they are in the minority among his instrumental works, the concerti are, nevertheless, remarkable for their breadth of formal variety and wealth of musical ideas.

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HK Gruber's darkly-humorous 1988 composition, the 16-minute Nebelsteinmusik is built from two thematic ideas: a passage from the “andante amoroso” of Berg's Lyric Suite and from a musical anagram of the name of his former teacher, Gottfried von Einem.

The programme is completed by Mahler's arrangement of Schubert's Death and the Maiden, completed when Schubert was feeling pretty depressed, suffering both from anaemia and a severe nervous disorder, leaving him short of money and largely dependent on the generosity of his friends for support.

Yet this desperate period of his life was not without its benefits and it sparked one of the most creative outbursts of his career.

It was during this year that Schubert wrote his second string quartet in D minor - which subsequently assumed the subtitle of Death and the Maiden - a title derived from the main theme of the second movement which originally appeared in a song by Schubert of the same name.

With themes of youth and death (not to mention song) at its heart, it's hardly surprising that Mahler took great interest in the work and eventually began to annotate a score.

The concert starts at 7.30pm. Tickets £25 to £7 available from Norwich Theatre Royal, 01603 630000

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