Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra

perform Sibelius

Part of Birmingham International Concert Season 2015/16 Concert Package,
SoundBite, Birmingham International Concert Season 2015/16 and
Competitions highlights

Thursday 10th December

Symphony Hall

Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra
John Storgårds conductor
2015 International Jean Sibelius Violin Competition Winner:

Christel Lee violin

Sibelius En Saga Op 9 20’
Violin Concerto Op 47 in D major 31’
Karelia Suite Op 11 14’
Symphony No 7 Op 105 in C major 21’


Helsinki Philharmonic’s encore – Sibelius- Scene with Cranes

BBC Radio 3 – Live in Concert – available here for 29 days

Breaking News: The winner of the International Jean Sibelius Violin Competition, and soloist in this concert, has been announced as Christel Lee (USA).

‘Simmering intensity’ is how Gramophone described the way the Helsinki Philharmonic plays Sibelius under its chief conductor John Storgårds. And as the Sibelius anniversary year draws to a close, you won’t hear more authentic or insightful performances than these: in a concert that spans Sibelius’s whole life, from the early En Saga to the monumental Seventh Symphony.


Review by Peter Marks, BachTrack:

Click here for full review

…      “The orchestra played with remarkable ensemble and precision but also with warmth where this was required. I have rarely heard the timpani flourish that opens the Seventh Symphony played with such clarity, for instance, and this important part was unusually clear throughout. Also, the crystalline sound of the Helsinki strings became much warmer as the violas and cellos gradually and tenderly laid the foundations for the first of the three great trombone solos that permeate the symphony at such key moments in the work. These solos were played with an edge that ensured they sang out above the orchestra without being too brash. The final return of this solo was truly hair-raising.

Storgårds’ conception of the symphony was spacious and tempi felt just right, such that phrases seemed to ebb and flow in and out of existence quite seamlessly. There was a feeling of gravitas even in the section that might be considered to be the ‘scherzo’ if following symphonic convention, which of course this symphony does not. The shock of the supposed tonic final chord of C major only emphasizes this point and Storgårds ensured this chord was both crystal clear and short-lived. 

An insert in the programme was necessary as the identity of the winner of the 2015 International Jean Sibelius Violin Competition was not known at the time it went to press. This prestigious competition is held every five years in Helsinki. Famous past winners include Viktoria Mullova and Leonidas Kavakos. The final round mandates a performance of Sibelius’ Violin Concerto and so this year’s American winner, Christel Lee, had the benefit of a practice run of the concerto she brought to Birmingham, albeit under rather different circumstances.

Lee was certainly in command of the formidable technical challenges this work presents.”   …