Virtual Concert: Portal

Friday 9.4.2021 19.00 Spring Series 3
Spring Series 3
Friday 9.4.2021 19.00 YouTube
Spring Series 3

Programme is an invitation to humanity and spirituality. In Zinovjev’s dramatic Cello Concerto and Shaw’s work, instruments lament and sigh, oscillating between dream and reality. Mozart´s Great G minor symphony concludes the programme.
Tapiola Sinfonietta is conducted by Klaus Mäkelä and the soloist is violinist Pekka Kuusisto.
At the afterparty, Mäkelä and Kuusisto present the world premiere of Sauli Zinovjev’s duo for violin and cello, ‘Double Trouble’.

The concert will be broadcasted on Yle Radio 1 on 14th April 2021.

The concert is available on YouTube 9.-11.4.2021.

NOTE: In the printed season programme 2020/21 title of the concert is Youth (Nuoruus).




Sauli Zinovjev

Cello Concerto ”Die Welt – Ein Tor”

Sauli Zinovjev came onto the radar of the Finnish musical public when he won 3rd prize in the International Uuno Klami Composition Competition with his orchestral work Gryf (2013) in November 2014. Since then, he has written several well-received works, and orchestral music seems to be his main metier.
Zinovjev’s expressive palette extends from soaring melodies to intense sound fields and powerful rhythmic pulsation, and his works often have a high, almost Romantic emotional charge. His Cello Concerto Die Welt – ein Tor [The world – a gate], completed in November 2017, owes a fair bit to German Romantic philosophy, as the title is borrowed from a poem by Friedrich Nietzsche (1884). The poem describes a Romantic archetype, the solitary wanderer whose only apparent companions in the bleak landscape are crows. The titular lines of the concerto are: “Die Welt – ein Tor / Zu tausend Wüsten stumm und kalt!” [The world – a gate / To a thousand deserts, silent and cold!].
Focused and stripped bare, Zinovjev’s work reflects the desolate atmosphere of the poem. The work is in a single movement lasting about 15 minutes, framed by four brief solo cadenzas for the cello. The solo part is not a traditional virtuoso vehicle but instead generates a glowing, fiery intensity from the very first cadenza that opens the work. The cello is underpinned by mostly slow-moving dark sounds from the orchestra that finally, between the third and fourth cadenzas, escalate to the highest culmination of the work. At the end of the final cadenza, the intensity dies out as the music fades away, the last performing instruction in the score being morendo.

Die Welt - Ein Tor
"The crows caw
and fly whirring to the city:
soon it will snow.
Happy is he who yet has a home.

Now you stand numbly,
looking backwards! For how long!
Why, you fool,
did you flee into the world as Winter approached?

The world - a gate
to a thousand wastelands silent and cold!
He who has lost
what you have lost, never stops.

Now you stand pale,
cursed to wander in the winter,
like smoke,
that is always seeking colder skies.

Fly, bird, sing
your song in the wasteland-bird tone!
Hide, you fool,
your bleeding heart in ice and scorn!

The crows caw
and fly whirring to the city:
soon it will snow.
Sore is he who has no home!"

Translation: Sauli Zinovjev

Caroline Shaw


Born in the USA and now living in New York, Caroline Shaw emerged on the musical scene by becoming the youngest person ever, at 30, to win a Pulitzer Prize, for her work Partita for 8 Voices. She is also known as a violinist and a singer, and she has worked in a wide variety of musical genres beyond art music, for instance as a producer on an album by rap artist Kanye West.
In her Pulitzer Prize winning work, Shaw drew inspiration from early music and titled the movements after Baroque dances. A similar gaze to the past can be found in Entr’acte for strings. Shaw originally wrote this for string quartet in 2011 and adapted it for string orchestra in 2014.
Entr’acte was inspired by a performance by the Brentano Quartet of Joseph Haydn’s String Quartet in F major op. 77/2. Shaw has said that the string quartet is an ensemble particularly dear to her; she knows what it is like to play in a quartet, bouncing ideas back and forth and forming part of the sound of the whole. She was particularly interested in the Minuet, the second movement of the Quartet, where the F major of the opening section transitions to D flat major, economically and soulfully, as she puts it. Accordingly, Entr’acte bears the subtitle ‘Minuet & Trio’.
Shaw’s work does not seek to emulate Haydn, but the music is obviously firmly rooted in tradition. However, this work is not about following tradition but about tradition eroding and crumbling away. Shaw has said that she likes music that transports the listener through the looking glass like Alice in Wonderland in an absurd, subtle, Technicolor transition. These transitions are what create the inner dynamics in Entr’acte.

Sauli Zinovjev

Violin Concerto ‘Der Leiermann’

Sauli Zinovjev’s Violin Concerto ‘Der Leiermann’ was completed in July 2017, the first of his concertos to be completed – only a few months before the Cello Concerto. There is a certain sibling relationship between the two. Subsequently, Zinovjev has written a Piano Concerto (2019).
As with the Cello Concerto, the sub-title of the Violin Concerto betrays a link to German Romanticism, in this case the poem Der Leiermann [The hurdy-gurdy man] by Wilhelm Müller (1794–1827). Müller is best remembered for the extensive song cycles by Schubert setting his texts, Die schöne Müllerin and Winterreise; the latter, which traces the lonely wintery journey of a disillusioned lover, comes to a sombre end with ‘Der Leiermann’. In this poem, the wanderer sees an old man playing a hurdy-gurdy outside a village. The old man is barefoot and waits in vain for passers-by to drop him a coin; only the stray dogs notice him. Zinovjev has noted that the poem’s “balance between reality and what is almost an escapist trance is reflected in the dreamlike inevitability of the Violin Concerto”. Indeed, the concerto is an intense work that plumbs the depths of the inner universe of the imagined narrator.
The work is organised into four movements but is a coherent entity. The opening movement paints a delicate landscape amidst which a three-note motif appears; when this is later played by the soloist, it is marked “Der Leiermann” in the score. The mood is quiet and meditative, though somewhat tense. Towards the end of the movement, the soloist is called upon to improvise a cadenza. In the second movement, the introvert mood begins to open up, and in the third movement the music escalates to faster movement and increasing ornamentation in the solo violin part. A second improvised cadenza follows. In the final movement, the slow breathing and broad sound fields of the opening returns. After a weighty culmination, a reminder of the undulating Leiermann motif from the beginning of the work is heard before the violin part disappears up into the stratosphere.

The Hurdy-Gurdy Player

There, beyond the village,
stands a hurdy-gurdy player;
with numb fingers
he plays as best he can.

Barefoot on the ice
he totters to and fro,
and his little plate
remains forever empty.

No one wants to listen,
no one looks at him,
and the dogs growl
around the old man.

And he lets everything go on
as it will;
he plays, and his hurdy-gurdy
never stops.

Strange old man,
shall I go with you?
Will you turn your hurdy-gurdy
to my songs?

English Translation © Richard Wigmore, author of Schubert: The Complete Song Texts, published by Schirmer Books,
provided courtesy of Oxford Lieder (

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Symphony no. 40 in g minor KV550

Mozart wrote his last three symphonies in a period of about six weeks in summer 1788. They form an astonishing trio, representing three completely different worlds. The Symphony in E flat major KV 543 is opulent and bright, the ‘Great G minor’ Symphony KV 550 is one of Mozart’s most sombre works of any kind, and the ‘Jupiter’ Symphony in C major KV 551 is sublimely jubilant, with a golden tapestry of profuse counterpoint in its finale. Together with the ‘Prague’ Symphony in D major KV 504, completed 18 months earlier, these works represent the pinnacle of Mozart’s career as a symphonic composer.

It is a persistent romantic notion that Mozart’s last three symphonies were never performed in his lifetime, but recent research has shown that this is probably not true. For instance, distinguished Viennese Classical music scholar H.C. Robbins Landon considers that the works may even have been performed in the year in which they were written, at the subscription concerts held by Mozart at a casino in Vienna. It is also probable that Mozart would have taken the symphonies with him on his trips to Leipzig in 1789 and to Frankfurt in 1790, since it seems only natural that he would have wanted to have his new symphonies performed. Moreover, the Symphony in G minor was evidently performed at a public concert in Vienna in April 1791, and it was possibly for this performance that Mozart revised the work, adding two clarinet parts and rewriting the oboe parts.

The main subject of the first movement is highly celebrated, and for good reason: its apparent lightness and buoyant elegance veils a profound sorrow. The development section begins tentatively but escalates into a passionate tumult. The slow movement, in E flat major, begins in a serene calm but is unable to conceal the underlying unease that permeates the work. The minuet is darkly defiant, a far cry from the elegant courtly dance from which it takes its name. The trio section of the minuet, by contrast, is the most restful moment in the entire symphony.

The finale is one of the most passionate pieces of music that Mozart ever wrote. It opens with an angular subject with abrupt dynamic shifts. The development section is rich in counterpoint and opens with a startling passage that runs through all the 12 tones of the chromatic scale in quick and edgy succession. The recapitulation brings us what is possibly the most melancholic feature of the symphony: the second subject that appeared in the lucid parallel major key in the exposition of the finale is now cast in a dark minor key. Can there be anything more compelling than the resigned sadness of this moment?

Sauli Zinovjev

Double Trouble, world premiere
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