H C Andersen’s beloved story The Little Mermaid is musically and imaginatively interpreted by Alexander Zemlinsky. World-famous cellist Truls Mørk will visit Berwaldhallen several times this season, but this will be the first, where he’ll perform Ernest Bloch’s beautiful, Hebrew rhapsody, Schelomo. The ocean theme is completed by Debussy’s billowing La Mer.
Composer, educator and conductor Alexander Zemlinsky is perhaps best known posthumously as Schönberg’s and Korngold’s teacher, but in recent decades his music has experienced a renaissance, not least regarding his Die Seejungfrau (The Mermaid) based on H.C. Andersen’ story. Zemlinsky initially called his work a symphonic poem, but abandoned the idea of a clear narrative and at the première in 1905, the work was given the title “Fantasy for Orchestra”. In The Mermaid, Zemlinsky created delectable, colourful and atmospheric music, and it is not difficult to understand why the piece is now played regularly in concert halls around the world.
Klaus Mäkelä has been the first guest conductor of the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra since the autumn of 2018. However, he began his career as a cellist and the cello plays a leading role in this concert, where one of the world’s leading cellists, Truls Mørk, performs Ernest Bloch’s Hebrew rhapsody, Schelomo. The origin of the work dates from the beginning of the First World War when Bloch, who was of Jewish origin, in his desperation at humanity’s wickedness turned to Ecclesiastes in the Old Testament. He started to outline a work for voice and orchestra but realized that the languages in which he was proficient did not suit what he wanted to express. Then he heard the cellist Aleksandr Barjanskij at a concert and realized that here was the “voice” he had been searching for: that of the cello. Bloch named the work Schelomo, the Hebrew name for the King of Israel, Solomon, who according to legend wrote Ecclesiastes.
Claude Debussy did not grow up by the sea, but in a Paris suburb, however his memories of childhood summers spent on the French south coast were extremely vivid to him even as an adult, and his love of the sea persisted throughout his entire life. “Symphonic sketches”, as he called La Mer, premièred in 1905, the same year as Zemlinsky’s The Mermaid. Debussy uses the orchestra in an innovative way with unusual instrument combinations, and he creates distinctive melodic figures and a shimmering, sonorous abundance of sound gaining inspiration from Javanese music, amongst other things. One of the first people to write a biography of Debussy, music researcher Edward Lockspeiser, aptly commented about La Mer that “we are moving from the 19th century to the 20th century in this music”. Many argue that Debussy’s composition, along with Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring, should be considered one of the seminal works of musical modernism.
Text: Axel Lindhe
The Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra is known worldwide as one of Europe’s most versatile orchestras with an exciting and varied repertoire and a constant striving to break new ground. The orchestra’s high-quality music making as well as its collaborations with internationally renowned composers, conductors and soloists have been rewarded with numerous prizes and accolades.
Permanent home of the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra since 1979 is Berwaldhallen, the Swedish Radio’s concert hall. In addition to the seated audience, the orchestra reaches millions of listeners on the radio and the web through Klassiska konserten i P2. Several concerts are also broadcast and streamed on Berwaldhallen Play and in Swedish Television, offering the audience more opportunities to come as close as possible to one of the world’s top orchestras.
“The orchestra has a unique combination of humility, sensibility and musical imagination”, says Daniel Harding, Music Director of the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra since 2007. “I have never had a concert with the orchestra where they haven’t played as though their lives depended on it!” The orchestra is also proud to have Klaus Mäkelä as its Principal Guest Conductor since 2018.
The first radio orchestra was founded in 1925, the same year that the Swedish Radio Service began its broadcasts. The Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra received its current name in 1967. Through the years, the orchestra has had several distinguished Music Directors. Two of them, Herbert Blomstedt and Esa-Pekka Salonen, have since been appointed Conductors Laureate, as well as Valery Gergiev, a regular guest conductor and co-founder of the Baltic Sea Festival.
Malin Broman is First Concertmaster of the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra, and an internationally sought-after soloist, having visited the Academy of St Martin in the Fields, the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, the Copenhagen Philharmonic, and the Gothenburg Symphony, among others. She has been Artistic Director of Musica Vitae since 2015, and succeeded Sakari Oramo as Artistic Director of the Ostrobothnian Chamber Orchestra in 2019. She has also been the Artistic Director of the Trondheim Soloists, Oulu Symphony Orchestra, the Gävle Symphony Orchestra, and the ACO Collective – the Australian Chamber Orchestra’s string ensemble.
Over the last few years, Broman has performed world premieres of violin concertos by Helen Grime, Britta Byström, Andrea Tarrodi and Daniel Nelson, and recorded both Carl Nielsen’s and Britta Byström’s concertos. Her recording of Mendelssohn’s double concerto for violin and piano with Musica Vitae and Simon Crawford Phillips was nominated for a Grammy in 2019. She has also made many recordings with celebrated ensemble the Kungsbacka Piano Trio. In the spring of 2020, Broman filmed a noted recording of her playing all eight parts of Felix Mendelssohn’s string octet.
Malin Broman is a member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Music, and Professor of Viola at the Edsbergs Institute of Music. In the spring of 2019, she was awarded H.M. the King’s eighth size medal for her considerable contributions to the Swedish music industry. She plays a Stradivarius violin from 1709 and a Bajoni viola from 1861, borrowed from the Järnåker Foundation.
Klaus Mäkelä has been the Principal Guest Conductor of the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra since the autumn of 2018. He is Chief Conductor and Artistic Advisor at the Oslo Philharmonic, and Artistic Advisor at Orchestre de Paris, where he will begin work as Music Director in 2022. He is Artist in Association with the Tapiola Sinfonietta, and Artistic Director of the Turku Music Festival.
During the 2020/2021 season, Mäkelä made his debut with the Gewandhaus Orchestra, the Boston Symphony Orchestra, and the Concertgebouw Orchestra, among others. He has also visited the Orchestra del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, the Frankfurt Radio Symphony, the Gothenburg Symphony, and the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra, and continued his collaboration with the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra, and the Tapiola Sinfonietta.
Mäkelä studied conducting with Jorma Panula, and cello with Marko Ylönen, Timo Hanhinen and Hannu Kiiski at the Sibelius Academy. As a cello soloist, he has performed with a number of Finnish orchestras, as a chamber musician with members of the French Radio Philharmonic Orchestra, and at several Finnish festivals. He plays on a Giovanni Grancino from 1698, lent to him by the OP Art Foundation. In 2019, he was awarded the Finnish National Prize for his contributions to Finnish art and culture.
With a combination of artistic integrity, intensity and elegance, the cellist Truls Mørk has played his way to the very top as a soloist. He performs with the foremost orchestras around the world and has recently performed with the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra, Gewandhaus Orchester Leipzig, Orchestre de Paris and Tonhalle Orchester Zurich, to mention but a few. Mørk has recorded the great solo concerts of Dvořák and Elgar, as well as Britten and Shostakovich, and also the collective Cello Suites of both Bach and Britten. He has also begun touring with the pianist Behzod Abduraimov. Mørk is dedicated to contemporary music and has performed more than 30 works, such as Krzysztof Penderecki’s Concerto for Three Cellos, Hafliði Hallgrímsson’s Cello Concerto and Einojuhani Rautavaara’s Towards the Horizon.