A conductor recommends: Susanna Mälkki’s highlights

  • Ludwig van Beethoven
    Symphony No. 9 in D minor, op. 125 “Choral” (65 min.)

    Berliner Philharmoniker

    Herbert von Karajan

    Christa Ludwig Contralto, Gundula Janowitz Soprano, Walter Berry Bass, Jess Thomas Tenor, Walter Hagen-Groll Chorus Master, Chorus of Deutsche Oper Berlin

  • Gustav Mahler
    Symphony No. 1 in D major (55 min.)

    Berliner Philharmoniker

    Claudio Abbado

  • Igor Stravinsky
    Le Rossignol (The Nightingale) (concert performance) (55 min.)

    Berliner Philharmoniker

    Pierre Boulez

    Barbara Hannigan Soprano (Nightingale), Stephanie Weiss Mezzo-Soprano (Cook), Julia Faylenbogen Mezzo-Soprano (Death), Edgaras Montvidas Tenor (Fisherman), Roman Trekel Baritone (Emperor of China), Georg Zeppenfeld Bass (Chamberlain), Peter Rose Bass (Bonze), Jan Remmers Tenor (Japanese Ambassador), Wolfram Tessmer Baritone (Japanese Ambassador), Rundfunkchor Berlin (Tenants), Simon Halsey Chorus Master

  • Carl Nielsen
    Symphony No. 5, op. 50 (41 min.)

    Berliner Philharmoniker

    Herbert Blomstedt

  • Arnold Schoenberg
    Gurre-Lieder (123 min.)

    Berliner Philharmoniker

    Sir Simon Rattle

    Soile Isokoski Soprano (Tove), Karen Cargill Mezzo-Soprano (Wood Dove), Stephen Gould Tenor (Waldemar), Burkhard Ulrich Tenor (Klaus-Narr), Lester Lynch Baritone (Peasant), Thomas Quasthoff (Speaker, KorVest Bergen, Rundfunkchor Berlin, MDR Rundfunkchor , WDR Rundfunkchor , Nicolas Fink Chorus Master

  • Alexander Scriabin
    Le Poème de l’extase, op. 54 (25 min.)

    Berliner Philharmoniker

    Kirill Petrenko

  • Paul Dukas
    La Péri, Poème dansé (18 min.)

    Berliner Philharmoniker

    Kirill Petrenko

  • Jean Sibelius
    Lemminkäinen Suite, op. 22 (52 min.)

    Berliner Philharmoniker

    Sakari Oramo

For a long time, Susanna Mälkki was regarded primarily as a specialist in New music. But this restrictive label no longer does justice to the conductor, who led the Ensemble intercontemporain from 2006 to 2013. As an orchestral cellist, the musician began her career playing the symphonic repertoire from the Classical to the Modern, which she now conducts with the most renowned orchestras. This repertoire is also strongly represented in the playlist compiled by the principal conductor of the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra as part of her guest conducting appearance in May 2021.

It begins with a performance of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, conducted by Herbert von Karajan. For Mälkki, this recording is a “monument of its time” both in terms of its cinematic concept and orchestral sound. While the conductor appreciates the “flow and opulence” in Claudio Abbado’s renditions of Mahler, she describes Sir Simon Rattle’s performance of Schoenberg’s “excessive” Gurre-Lieder as “poetic, dazzling and moving”. Chief conductor Kirill Petrenko is of course also included in the selection: He is represented by Scriabin’s “enthralling” Poème de l'extase and the ballet music La Péri in a performance characterised, according to Mälkki, by “elegance, style and flawless virtuosity”. The playlist is completed by performances conducted by Pierre Boulez, founder of the Ensemble intercontemporain, Herbert Blomstedt and Sakari Oramo.