2020 marks the 70th anniversary of the Iceland Symphony Orchestra’s first concert. To celebrate the occasion, the Iceland Symphony holds a gala concert of major works by Sibelius and Mahler, coupled with a seldom-heard composition by Páll Ísolfsson, a pioneer in Icelandic musical life and one of the catalysts of the Orchestra’s founding. Úr myndabók Jónasar Hallgrímssonar is an exceptionally accessible and entertaining piece composed as incidental music to a play based on the stories and poems of Icelandic poet Jónas Hallgrímsson, written by Halldór Laxness in 1945, on the centenary of the poet’s death.
Few composers are on a par with Gustav Mahler when it comes to writing for large orchestra. His Symphony no. 1, an ambitious debut, has been characterised by The Guardian as “one of the most spellbinding moments of symphonic inspiration in the 19th century.” Its themes range from jolly country tunes to the funereal melody based on the well-known “Frère Jacques”, and it builds up to perhaps the most electrifying finale in the entire orchestral canon.
Italy’s Augustin Hadelich has joined the ranks of the world’s leading violinists. He won his first Grammy Award in 2016 and, in 2018 was named Instrumentalist of the Year by the magazine Musical America. In summer 2018, he also debuted at the renowned Salzburg Festival, performing the Sibelius concerto. Hadelich plays the priceless 1723 Stradivarius that made world news about a decade ago, when its former owner left it in a New York taxicab by accident. (The honest driver returned it the following day.)
At the podium is Finland’s Eva Ollikainen, whose February 2019 performance with the Iceland Symphony was so well received that she was immediately engaged for two of this season’s concerts.
Páll Ísólfsson Úr myndabók Jónasar Hallgrímssonar
Jean Sibelius Violin Concerto
Gustav Mahler Symphony no. 1