Royal Stockholm Philharmonic and Sakari Oramo return to BBC Proms (30 August) with compelling programme, including Nielsen’s Symphony No.2, and Samuel Barber’s Knoxville: Summer of 1915 with Renée Fleming
Recent reports suggest that the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra (RSPO) is in the form of its long life. The Observer has praised the Swedish ensemble for ‘its rich, full-bodied sound’, while Die Welt concluded that ‘the orchestra can call itself one of the world’s best … not only because its technical level is stunning but also because it demonstrates genuine character’. British audiences have the chance to hear the RSPO in action with their Finnish Chief Conductor, Sakari Oramo, at this year’s BBC Proms on Wednesday 30 August, broadcast live on BBC Radio 3. The artistic partnership between Oramo and his orchestra has grown in artistic quality and musical depth since they last appeared together at the Royal Albert Hall in 2011. They will be joined for their latest BBC Proms outing by Renée Fleming, a regular guest with the orchestra over the past decade.
“It is a particular pleasure for me to perform at this year’s Proms with my two orchestras, the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic and the BBC Symphony Orchestra,” notes Sakari Oramo. “Our aim has been to bring the RSPO into the top league of European ensembles and reach out to audiences worldwide. This summer’s tour is part of that gradual and inspiring process. I’m so glad that Renée Fleming will be with us at the Royal Albert Hall on 30 August. The relationship we have with her has been so positive and so beautiful, and we’re looking forward to performing two very different works with her at the Proms.”
The American soprano will close the concert’s first half with Knoxville: Summer of 1915, Samuel Barber’s rhapsodic setting of a reflective prose piece by James Agee. She returns after the interval to open the second half with the transformation scene, Ich komme – ich komme, from Richard Strauss’s opera Daphne, among the most seductive arias in the dramatic soprano repertoire. Oramo and his Stockholm orchestra turn to Carl Nielsen’s Symphony No.2 The Four Temperaments for the programme’s exuberant conclusion, offering their latest thoughts on a work they have performed and recorded to critical acclaim. In 2016 the orchestra won the orchestral category at the BBC Music Magazine Awards for their recording of Nielsen Symphonies Nos.1 & 3 on the BIS Label.
“Nielsen was closely associated with the Stockholm Philharmonic,” Oramo observes. “He conducted the orchestra several times between 1918 and 1928. The Second Symphony is an ideal work for the Stockholm Philharmonic, which has such tremendous ability to bring out the score’s different characters and emotions in performance. It is always so rewarding to work with them because of their connection to the expressive character of music.”
The RSPO’s BBC Prom programme is set to open with the UK premiere of Andrea Tarrodi’s Liguria. The Swedish composer’s ten-minute tone poem, created in 2012, was inspired by her visit to five small fishing villages in northwest Italy. “It’s a great pleasure to introduce Andrea Tarrodi’s work to the Proms,” comments Stefan Forsberg, Executive and Artistic Director of the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra. “We’ve followed her from the start of her career and we have played several of her compositions since she graduated from the Royal College of Music in Stockholm in 2009. We are delighted that she has become our composer in residence and will be the subject of our next Composer Weekend in April 2018.”
The Royal Stockholm Philharmonic’s Proms performance forms part of a four-concert European tour, complete with dates at the Amsterdam Concertgebouw (Monday 28 August), the Helsinki Festival (Saturday 2 September) and Konzerthaus Dortmund (Tuesday 5 September). “Our visit to the BBC Proms represents an important milestone for us,” notes Stefan Forsberg. “We were last there with Sakari six years ago and the orchestra has developed enormously under his leadership since then. It has reached new heights and is now playing better than ever. This is a great moment for us to share the orchestra’s wonderful spirit and artistry with the Proms audience.”