Pekka Kuusisto
Violin

“Pekka Kuusisto's rare gift is to become rather than perform the music he plays." (The Guardian)

Contacts

Jane Brown +44 (0)20 3725 9129
Anna Power +44 (0)20 3725 9110
Julia Boon +44 (0)20 3725 9115

Biography

Artistic Director: Our Festival

 

The 2014/15 season includes debuts with the Seattle Symphony Orchestra, BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, MDR Sinfonieorchester Leipzig and Orquesta Sinfónica de Galicia. Kuusisto also directs The Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen on a tour of South America, and joins the Swedish Chamber Orchestra for a special Sibelius project.

An advocate of new music, Pekka gave the world premiere of Sebastian Fagerlund’s Violin Concerto and and regularly collaborates with composers such as Nico Muhly and Thomas Adès. In October 2013 he was awarded the 2013 Nordic Council Music Prize.

Recent orchestral

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Artistic Director: Our Festival

 

The 2014/15 season includes debuts with the Seattle Symphony Orchestra, BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, MDR Sinfonieorchester Leipzig and Orquesta Sinfónica de Galicia. Kuusisto also directs The Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen on a tour of South America, and joins the Swedish Chamber Orchestra for a special Sibelius project.

An advocate of new music, Pekka gave the world premiere of Sebastian Fagerlund’s Violin Concerto and and regularly collaborates with composers such as Nico Muhly and Thomas Adès. In October 2013 he was awarded the 2013 Nordic Council Music Prize.

Recent orchestral engagements include the Cincinnati, Singapore, City of Birmingham, Finnish Radio and Toronto Symphony orchestras; the Philharmonia, Royal Stockholm and Oslo Philharmonic orchestras; and the Chamber Orchestra of Europe and Washington’s National Symphony Orchestra. Kuusisto also regularly directs ensembles from the violin, including with Britten Sinfonia, and the Mahler, Saint Paul, Australian, and Irish Chamber orchestras. He is Artistic Director of the award-winning 'Our Festival', based in Sibelius’ home town.

Kuusisto has enjoyed a number of prestigious residencies, including the Aldeburgh Festival and the Robeco Zomerconcerten of Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw. He is a previous ‘Junge Wilde’ artist with the Konzerthaus Dortmund. A recording of Sebastian Fagerlund’s Violin Concerto with Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra is scheduled for release on BIS in early 2015.

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Contacts

Jane Brown +44 (0)20 3725 9129
Anna Power +44 (0)20 3725 9110
Julia Boon +44 (0)20 3725 9115

Reviews

“[The Sibelius Violin Concerto] is often played – but never quite like this, and the performance by violinist Pekka Kuusisto was the evening’s great surprise…he launched into the music with a straightforward intensity that had the listeners leaning forward in their seats. There were no showy virtuoso flourishes and no grand gestures; instead, Kuusisto wielded an awe-inspiring technique and displayed a brilliantly thorough command of this challenging score. After the final bravura notes, the audience just exploded, into an ovation that sounded less like sedate symphony-goers and more like the 12th Man. Kuusisto was called again and again to the stage, until he provided a wonderfully Finnish encore by the 19th-century

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“[The Sibelius Violin Concerto] is often played – but never quite like this, and the performance by violinist Pekka Kuusisto was the evening’s great surprise…he launched into the music with a straightforward intensity that had the listeners leaning forward in their seats. There were no showy virtuoso flourishes and no grand gestures; instead, Kuusisto wielded an awe-inspiring technique and displayed a brilliantly thorough command of this challenging score. After the final bravura notes, the audience just exploded, into an ovation that sounded less like sedate symphony-goers and more like the 12th Man. Kuusisto was called again and again to the stage, until he provided a wonderfully Finnish encore by the 19th-century folk musician Samuel Rinda-Nickola, complete with foot-stomping emphasis.” (Melinda Bargreen, The Seattle Times, March 2015)

“…Kuusisto stood out. He committed at every moment to Sibelius’ music, whether spinning a thread of tone in his opening bars or turning to the orchestra with a smile between solos, absorbing energy for his next entrance…Kuusisto consistently draws you in with his playing, as if he’s trying to share a secret…Everyone left for intermission with the same huge smile Kuusisto wore at the end, and a guy walking past me up the aisle told his date, ‘I have a new favorite fiddler.’” (Lawrence Toppman, The Charlotte Observer, March 2015)

“Kuusisto is clearly a risk taker and in this case, he was eminently successful. This collaboration represented an inventive reimagining of the classical sound and offered the opportunity to hear this music afresh. The freewheeling program offered a novel way to structure a recital, thinking outside the usual box…Kuusisto himself provided much of the energy of the event…He was clearly having a rollicking good time and his mood was contagious…he is a true virtuoso, playing with expressive flair and control…Kuusisto demonstrated mastery as a classical violinist and as a fiddler, a different skill set…the ear-catching thrills kept the audience enthralled.” (William Randall Beard, Star Tribune, March 2015)

“If you've encountered an uncomfortably aristocratic air at some classical music concerts you've attended, be assured that violinist Pekka Kuusisto seems intent upon doing away with that. The flamboyant Finn engages audiences with a puckish playfulness, approaching the music with a palpable thirst for fun and adventure…Employing an expressive face and a loose-limbed bounciness, he clearly captured the audience's fancy, judging from its lusty ovations. And he underlined the Bach sonatas' foundation in dance by interspersing Finnish folk tunes from Bach's era, climaxing in a "polska for the devil" that was thrillingly fiery.” (Rob Hubbard, Pioneer Press, March 2015)

“…a brilliant adventure, full of surprises and imagination…[This was] without a doubt the most incredible improvisation I have ever heard.” ***** (Jónas Sen, Fréttablaðið, February 2015)

“Kuusisto's playing of Lindberg's merciless solo part was spectacularly effective, drawing the ovation that he deserved.” (Michael Tumelty, The Herald, October 2014)

“Thomas Adès's violin concerto Concentric Paths is a bracing, if barbed, work. Pekka Kuusisto attacked the busy, complex, circular patterning of the first movement with relish and held his nerve in its whistling, high-wire writing. Something of a maverick, he was at once battling vigorously with the fast writing and seeming to joust with it physically, jumping suddenly forwards and back. There’s a dystopian, or at least chaotic, edge in the slow movement too, a quality that Kuusisto evoked in the fast angular yet legato runs over rumbling tuba and drum. Much of the remainder of the movement calls for well-fuelled high-lying playing, in which Kuusisto excelled.” (Edward Bhesania, The Strad, February 2014)

“Pekka Kuusisto, the elfin Finnish violinist who surely has the most personal sound of any classical violinist now alive… For his encore Kuusisto played the Sarabande from Bach’s D minor Partita. Here, finally, Kuusisto’s own rhapsodic voice stood out nakedly, as delicate and fleeting as a distant bird.” (Ivan Hewett, The Telegraph, February 2014)

“Mr. Kuusisto’s passionate rendition of the work’s Chaconne proved arresting; his idiosyncratic style stopped short of indulgent with unpredictable twists of tempo, phrasing and dynamics. During his no-holds-barred playing, there were many broken bow hairs, which danced over his instrument like gossamer insect legs.” (Vivien Schweitzer, The New York Times, January 2014)

“Kuusisto, directing from (and occasionally rising from) the concertmaster’s chair, offered a bracing account, historically informed yet personally inflected, that captured the music’s vigor and wit. His breathless tempo in the finale left both orchestra…and audience pleasantly warm. I went home singing….he is not so much a violinist as a musician who happens to play the violin.” (Larry Fuchsberg, Minnesota Star-Tribune, January 2014)

“…to hear the whispered tenderness that Kuusisto brought to the final simple motif was worth the trip to Perth in itself.” (Rob Adams, The Herald, April 2013)

“The solo was played with bracing intensity and brilliance by the Finnish violinist Pekka Kuusisto.” (New York Times, February 2012)

“Pekka Kuusisto, a violinist whose rare gift is to become rather than perform the music he plays, made light work of the finely spun figurations that filter through into the dappled orchestral textures...Here and throughout, the playing was marked by the kind of luminous and infectious beauty that comes only from a true marriage of mastery and love.” (The Guardian, February 2012)

“Kuusisto makes an extraordinary sound, delicate and changeable and yet tough as steel wire." (The Telegraph, February 2012)

“The Finnish violinist Pekka Kuusisto, probably the most engaging maverick in classical music today, appeared once to give a startlingly eerie account of Stravinsky’s Airs du rossignol and Marche chinoise, again to supply the piano part in the orchestra’s aptly grotesque romp through the same composer’s Suites Nos 1 and 2 for Small Orchestra; and a third time as a superbly characterful soloist in Adès’s own violin concerto, Concentric Paths.” (The Times, February 2012)

“The young Finn produced some of the most spontaneous and out-of-the-box violin playing and musical interpretation I have heard…what Kuusisto did with it all was fresh and unpredictable. There were no templates, no predictable strategies. At one moment in the Stravinsky he was playing in period style, the next with sweet tone, then with full-on passion, then at the threshold of audibility, and finally barnstorming rambunctiously.” (The Herald, February 2010)

“Lending his wayward genius to all this was the guest solo violinist, Pekka Kuusisto. What an extraordinary sound he makes, tremulous as a reed, often folk-like in its flatness, and yet so expressive.” (The Telegraph, February 2010)

“Other highlights are the gorgeous romancing of the Cantabile, the effortlessly sweet-singing Sonata in A and the heroic Tarantella, originally for violin and orchestra: here Kuusisto really shows his violinistic mettle with some impeccable double-stopped spiccato and frenzied, stratospheric twirling.” (The Strad, February 2010)