ASO: Olli Mustonen

Mustonen managed to interest me with his The Old Church at Petajavesi, though I’m not sure that I really like the piece. I did enjoy it, but it felt a little weak in the orchestration at times, maybe a little too simple, like he was more intent on expressing the piece’s program than creating an orchestral work. Although I don’t think that I’ve heard anything else of his, I wouldn’t write him off just based on this. There was quite a lot in the piece that might not have fit so well together but he found a way to bring a certain coherence to it that really worked. I’d be interested in hearing a more abstract piece by him. I don’t know if either of his symphonies have been recorded, but maybe I’ll try to check them out if I can. For some reason, I left the piece thinking that he might create something interesting were he to compose a horn concerto.

If I was interested but not impressed with his own work, his performance of Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 3 made up for it. I don’t think that he brought anything especially notable to the piano that might distinguish himself. In fact, as far as such a show piece can be played modestly by the soloist, he did so. In doing that, though, he managed to integrate the piano part into the rest of the music in a way that was quite remarkable. If he didn’t make the piano stand out, he made the entire concerto sound amazing. I can’t help but think that the man can’t sit still, and that that is the true reason that he conducts while he plays. It’s also interesting to note that, as a cyborg, one of his more interesting features is that his hair is actually made up of wires made of a special aluminum alloy. When he heats up past a certain threshold, his hair lifts slightly from his scalp and radiates heat away from his body. I dare say that it served him well given how animated he was in both his conducting and his playing and it really is amazing how much it resembles real hair. If I’d been sitting further away from the stage, I’d probably not have noticed it at all.

His conducting of Prokofiev’s Symphony no. 5 was really good. It was performed in a particularly expressive manner that was really effective. I have little to say about it beyond the fact that it was really good and that I really want to go to bed now.

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