Susanna Mälkki
Conductor

“Conductor Susanna Mälkki’s sensational debut is easily the most impressive CSO podium bow of recent seasons.” (Chicago Classical Review)

Contacts

Jane Brown +44 (0)20 3725 9129
Rose Hooks +44 (0)20 3725 9177

Biography

Principal Guest Conductor: Gulbenkian Orchestra
Chief Conductor: Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra (from 2016/17)
Principal Guest Conductor: Los Angeles Philharmonic (from 2017/18)

 

The 2016/17 season marks Susanna Mälkki’s debut year as Chief Conductor of the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra where highlights of her inaugural season will include orchestral works by Berlioz, Mahler, Debussy and Messiaen. She was recently appointed Principal Guest Conductor of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, beginning in autumn 2017 and is also Principal Guest Conductor of the Gulbenkian Orchestra.

As a guest conductor at the highest level in both Europe and North America, Mälkki’s recent highlights include returns to the San Francisco and Chicago Symphony Orchestras (both of which she returns to in summer 2017), New World Symphony, Bayerischer Rundfunk, London Sinfonietta and Oslo Philharmonic orchestras.

Principal Guest Conductor: Gulbenkian Orchestra
Chief Conductor: Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra (from 2016/17)
Principal Guest Conductor: Los Angeles Philharmonic (from 2017/18)

 

The 2016/17 season marks Susanna Mälkki’s debut year as Chief Conductor of the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra where highlights of her inaugural season will include orchestral works by Berlioz, Mahler, Debussy and Messiaen. She was recently appointed Principal Guest Conductor of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, beginning in autumn 2017 and is also Principal Guest Conductor of the Gulbenkian Orchestra.

As a guest conductor at the highest level in both Europe and North America, Mälkki’s recent highlights include returns to the San Francisco and Chicago Symphony Orchestras (both of which she returns to in summer 2017), New World Symphony, Bayerischer Rundfunk, London Sinfonietta and Oslo Philharmonic orchestras. She has previously worked with the Philadelphia and New York Philharmonic orchestras, BBC Symphony Orchestra at the BBC Proms, Chamber Orchestra of Europe and Teatro La Fenice. Notable recent debuts include the London Philharmonic Orchestra and Orquesta y Coro Nacionales de España. In 2017 she also returns to the Swedish Radio Symphony and The Cleveland orchestras.

A renowned opera conductor, this season Mälkki makes her debut with The Metropolitan Opera conducting its premiere of Saariaho’s L’Amour de loin in a new production by Robert Lepage. She will also return to Opéra National de Paris in spring 2017 for the world premiere of Francesconi’s new opera Trompe-la-mort, having previously conducted the world premiere of a ballet by Bruno Mantovani there as well as Janáček’s The Makropolous Case in 2013. Previous opera highlights include Der Rosenkavalier and Le nozze di Figaro with the Finnish National, her debut at Staatsoper Hamburg conducting a revival of Jenůfa and in 2011 she became the first woman to conduct a production at Teatro alla Scala, Milan – she later returned in 2014. 

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Contacts

Jane Brown +44 (0)20 3725 9129
Rose Hooks +44 (0)20 3725 9177

Reviews

“Malkki has an uncommon ability to create the appropriate sound picture around every score she conducts. Such was her refinement of detail that one could hear and appreciate everything that went on beneath the shimmering surface.” (Chicago Tribune, April 2016)

“Such is her firm belief in this Russian masterpiece, and her ability to inspire her musicians to share that belief, that she got the old war horse to gallop anew. Her probity displayed the rich colorings and sumptuous textures of Rimsky's orchestral fabric in the most revealing light. There was a wonderful feeling of atmosphere to every section, and a no less impressive musical integrity that made this "Scheherazade" so much more than a mere showpiece.” (Chicago Tribune, April 2016)

“The result is a thrilling bit of gladiatorial combat, and Mälkki and the orchestra delivered it with abundant power and precision.” (SFGate, October 2015)

“Mälkki’s presence on the podium ensured an overall level of unanimity and balance, with big, shapely orchestral textures and crisp but fluid rhythms.” (SFGate, October 2015)

“Malkki has an uncommon ability to create the appropriate sound picture around every score she conducts. Such was her refinement of detail that one could hear and appreciate everything that went on beneath the shimmering surface.” (Chicago Tribune, April 2016)

“Such is her firm belief in this Russian masterpiece, and her ability to inspire her musicians to share that belief, that she got the old war horse to gallop anew. Her probity displayed the rich colorings and sumptuous textures of Rimsky's orchestral fabric in the most revealing light. There was a wonderful feeling of atmosphere to every section, and a no less impressive musical integrity that made this "Scheherazade" so much more than a mere showpiece.” (Chicago Tribune, April 2016)

“The result is a thrilling bit of gladiatorial combat, and Mälkki and the orchestra delivered it with abundant power and precision.” (SFGate, October 2015)

“Mälkki’s presence on the podium ensured an overall level of unanimity and balance, with big, shapely orchestral textures and crisp but fluid rhythms.” (SFGate, October 2015)

“Under Malkki’s baton, the whirling finale was diamond-bright.” (Mercury News, October 2015)

“Mälkki brought clarity and polish to this performance. Ensemble was excellent; it seemed as though Mälkki and the expanded orchestra were breathing as one. With Mälkki on the podium, the Helsinki Philharmonic has to be heard to be believed, and performances such as this one are probably making Helsinki audiences even more impatient for her to begin her tenure as Music Director.” (ResMusica, September 2015)

“never has it sounded to me more like a total masterpiece than under Mälkki’s magnificent baton.” (The Arts Desk, August 2015)

“Whether in the brisk forcefulness she brought to Mars or the frigid stillness she found in the Saturn movement, this was a strikingly strong and fresh performance.” (John Allison, The Telegraph, July 2015)

“Susanna Malkki made the Cleveland Orchestra sound like a shinier, more transparent version of its usual self. … The orchestra under Malkki handled the score's lyrical, emotional moments with uncommon suavity. In this regard, both the strings and percussion sections were exceptional. That wasn't the limit of Malkki's interpretive prowess. No, the conductor also possessed a unique sense of balance, an interest in highlighting music that's often subdued. Wherever the score depicted crowds, she revealed whole pockets of overlooked activity. In short, even for the true Stravinsky fan, the experience was enlightening.” (The Plain Dealer, April 2015)

"...it was fascinating to see how expressively Mälkki sculpted and coaxed the music with her flowing, graceful movements." (The Classical Review, July 2014)

“When Susanna Mälkki made her Los Angeles Philharmonic debut in 2010 it was hoped — at least by me — that the Finnish conductor would be invited back to show what she could really do. She was. And Sunday afternoon in Walt Disney Concert Hall, she did….Brahms’s Fourth Symphony was a knockout… Mälkki etched lines with a crisp and dry sensibility. She luxuriated in nothing. She brought out details that took the breath away. She demonstrated Brahms as the progressive that Schoenberg had claimed he was. Harmonies felt intended for the 20th century. A too-played symphony was given new life.” (Mark Swed, Los Angeles Times, April 2013)

“Ms. Mälkki showed that Strauss, Debussy and Messiaen were demonstrating their skills more than they were testing them in these early pieces, creating music that is confident and deep rather than shallow or brash. Her gripping, polished accounts of the two Strauss tone poems showed them fully formed and forward thinking…. Energetic conducting can often mean, simply, fast. But Ms. Mälkki’s work was never exaggerated in tempo. The vitality came instead from the precision of the orchestra’s playing and the crispness of the musical line, the way that Ms. Mälkki was able to make transitions of speed and mood both surprising and natural.” (Zachary Woolfe, The New York Times, April 2013)

“Mälkki can invest anything she touches with persuasive grandeur…. She managed the music’s flow with serene mastery.” (San Francisco Chronicle, April 2012)

“Finnish guest conductor Susanna Mälkki combined graceful precision and fiery energy throughout the program. Her expressive hands shaped the music and made her intentions abundantly clear to the orchestra, which followed her closely all evening.” (The Seattle Times, April 2012)

"In Ives’ “The Unanswered Question” and “Three Places in New England,” and no less in Strauss’ “Also sprach Zarathustra,” Mälkki displayed an easy brilliance that bespoke intimate understanding of both composers. She also showed a rich technical vocabulary for putting her consistently original ideas across. The CSO answered with an exhilarating performance. It was one of the most remarkable first encounters with a conductor I’ve experienced in a long while.

"Strauss’ richly woven textures, which can sound almost opaque in the wrong hands, shone with a rare transparency in Mälkki’s smartly defined voicings. There was a grand sweep to the sound she drew from the CSO, but also a gratifying intimacy as she allowed woodwinds, brasses and strings to have their moments in the sun. This was polished, boldly assertive and thoroughly musical leadership. It should not be a question of whether but when – indeed, how soon – Mälkki returns to the CSO." (Chicago on the aisle, October 2011)

"Mälkki, music director of Ensemble InterContemporain, managed to not only pull off each work on this demanding program with striking success but sparked the CSO to some of their finest playing of the year. With powerful, richly eloquent, and immaculately balanced performances, Mälkki’s sensational debut is easily the most impressive CSO podium bow of recent seasons.

"As impressive as Mälkki’s direction was in the first half, the thrilling performance of Strauss’s Also Sprach Zarathustra after intermission was finer still. The 42-year-old Finn is a charismatic and dynamic podium presence, leading sans baton with her expressive hands and animated body language, not for self-regarding podium gymnastics but to draw out the music with full force and fervor." (Chicago Classical Review, October 2011)

“Mälkki conducts without a baton and respects transparency. Her rhythmic gestures are precise and energizing.” (Los Angeles Times, November 2010)

"Mälkki’s foundation was a rhythmic energy that constantly percolated underneath the musical surface, producing an unusually fresh rendition of Beethoven’s Fourth Symphony. It was a terrific performance." (Boston Globe, August 2010)

“Mälkki's handling of Ravel's mordant choreographic poem deserved the most hearty clap. The new Finnish star of classical music had controlled the BBC Symphony Orchestra so tightly, the music's sensuous lilt hardening into brash sparkle before roaring balefully toward Hell, with every twinge or layer of colour gleaming.” (The Times, February 2010)

“Finnish conductor Susanna Mälkki is an elegant presence on the podium; tall and commanding, she combines strength and decisiveness with balletic grace and expressiveness that hold the eye as her music-making holds the ear.” (St Louis Post-Dispatch, January 2010)