Damian Thompson Damian Thompson

An exhilarating debut: Peltokoski’s Mozart Symphonies reviewed

Can someone make sure that this kid, born in 2000, doesn’t burn himself out?

Grade: A-

Here’s an oddly structured album of Mozart’s symphonies 35, 40 and 36 from the world’s most fashionable young Finnish conductor – and, no, it isn’t Klaus Makela, the 28-year-old maestro of the Oslo Philharmonic and Orchestre de Paris who’s taking over in Amsterdam and Chicago. It’s Tarmo Peltokoski, 24, who hasn’t yet had to cope with iffy reviews hinting that he’s been overpromoted.

Peltokoski is cute, clever and scarily self-assured. He’s already music director of the Latvian National Symphony Orchestra and is about to hold the same position in Toulouse. He’s principal guest conductor of the Rotterdam Philharmonic and also the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen, the Mercedes-Benz of chamber orchestras. And how splendidly it glides along here, burnished strings dissolving into pianissimo wisps while the wind players dance around them.

Could this crack outfit, originally conductorless, drive itself? Of course, but it would sound different. There’s a springy joyfulness to the playing in the first movement of the Linz, which is already Peltokoski’s hallmark. He thinks in paragraphs, fittingly for a Wagner obsessive who already has a Ring Cycle under his belt; sometimes this habit, combined with brisk speeds, makes it difficult to catch the quirks of the score, but the effect is never breathless or mechanical.

This is an exhilarating debut, though someone at DG should have told Peltokoski that his lounge-jazz improvisation on the first movement of No. 40, however ingenious, is still basically painting a moustache on the Mona Lisa. And for God’s sake will someone make sure that this kid, born in 2000, doesn’t burn himself out?

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