Newly appointed Artistic Director and Principal Conductor of the Turku Philharmonic Orchestra, Olli Mustonen has a unique place on today’s music scene. Following the tradition of great masters such as Rachmaninov, Busoni and Enescu, Mustonen combines the roles of his musicianship as composer, pianist and conductor in an equal balance that is quite exceptional, often bringing them together in one fascinating triple role performance.
During an illustrious career spanning 35 years, Mustonen has brought his extraordinary musical insight to many of world’s most significant orchestras, including the Berlin Philharmonic, New York and Los Angeles Philharmonic orchestras, Chicago Symphony, Cleveland Orchestra, Royal Concertgebouw Orkest, Mariinsky Theatre Orchestra, Orchestre de Paris and all the London orchestras.
Recipient of the 2019 Hindemith Prize of the City of Hanau, Mustonen’s life as a composer is at the heart of his piano playing and conducting. Frequently bringing his own works to the chamber music stage, last season saw the World Premieres of his work Taivaanvalot (Heavenly Lights) for Tenor, Cello and Piano at Het Muziekgebouw, Amsterdam, performed by Mustonen himself, alongside Ian Bostridge and Steven Isserlis. Further performances took place at London’s Wigmore Hall and in Hong Kong. A further world premiere was his new string sextet, commissioned by the Beethoven Festival Bonn and first performed in February 2020. Elsewhere, highlights of last season included concerts in Italy with the St. Petersburg Philharmonic, a tour of South America, as well as recitals in Italy, Germany’s Klavierfestival Ruhr, Singapore and Finland.
In the 2020/21 season, Mustonen officially commences his directorship of the Turku Philharmonic Orchestra. Another main feature of his season will be as guest artist in the Tonhalle Orchester Zürich’s series «In Focus». He will be presented as an “extraordinary artist who inspires the audience with his individual approach and new concepts”, and appear with Music Director Paavo Järvi in the season’s opening concerts as soloist in the piano version of Beethoven’s violin concerto, in addition to two further collaborations later in the season, including a performance of Mustonen’s own Piano Quintet. In Japan he will perform as soloist with the NHK Symphony and the Sapporo Symphony Orchestras. He will also perform with the Prague Philharmonia, the Deutsche Radiophilharmonie Saarbrücken, in solo recitals including at the Chopin Institute in Warsaw and the Tokyo Spring Festival, and in duo concerts with Steven Isserlis in several European countries.
As a recitalist, Mustonen has appeared in recent seasons at the Diaghilev Festival Perm, Dresden Festival, Cal Performances Berkeley, Symphony Center Chicago, New York Zankel Hall and Sydney Opera House. With Steven Isserlis, Mustonen has performed as a duo for more than thirty years. 2019 saw the release of their disc of Russian works for cello and piano on the Hyperion label.
Particularly close to Mustonen’s heart are the piano concertos of Beethoven, Prokofiev and Bartók, all of which he has performed with leading orchestras. His repertoire also includes Respighi’s Concerto in modo misolidio, which he has recorded with the Finnish Radio Symphony and Sakari Oramo on the Ondine label. He is completing his recording projects encompassing all of Bartók and Prokofievs’ piano concertos, also for the Ondine label.
Credit: Heikki Tuuli