Review: Minnesota Orchestra’s Vänskä as conductor, clarinetist, composer

Posted on: July 1, 2021

“ ‘Welcome back,’ cooed the ushers as audience members streamed into Orchestra Hall on Friday night, for a season finale that highlighted the multiple talents of music director Osmo Vänskä,” writes Sheila Regan in Saturday’s (6/26) Pioneer Press (MN). “Three specific talents were on display as Vänskä played clarinet, debuted a new composition, and conducted.… First on the program, performed without a conductor, was Nonet in F minor, Opus 2 by Samuel Coleridge-Taylor. The British Black composer was active in the late 19th and early 20th centuries…. [On clarinet] Vänskä [displayed] a lyrical quality…. Next up was the premiere of Vänskä’s Overture, a piece he composed as a companion to Kurt Weill’s Concerto for Violin and Wind Orchestra, Opus 12, which followed it on the program…. Composed during the COVID-19 pandemic, the work carried a gravitas that spoke to the enormous weight the world has been carrying these many months. The 14 percussion instruments were featured prominently…. The moment featuring the groaning lion’s roar stole the show…. [In] the five-movement [Weill] concerto … concertmaster Erin Keefe … displayed ferocity as the soloist…. In the hands of the Minnesota Orchestra musicians, it stormed and romped in its cacophonous beauty.”