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Live Review: The Finns Take Philadelphia – Vänskä Conducts Sibelius and Aho’s Minea (2010.03.13)

Philadelphia’s Kimmel Center (home to the Philadelphia Orchestra) puts the Kennedy Center to shame. This 2001 building gives off an intergalactic glass air from the outside. But once you cross the orchestra doors into Verizon Hall, sweeping elliptical balconies in warm wood welcome you and provide an intimate surprise once the orchestra strikes up.

Such a hall was very kind to the East Coast premiere of Kalevi Aho’s Minea. This concertante for orchestra gets its feminine nickname from the commissioning orchestra (Minnesota) where Vänskä conducts. Ever the champion of his fellow Finn, Vänskä gave Aho’s overture a powerful push. He was jumping, bending deep in the knees, twisting from the hips before delivering an openhanded punch or swipe to call up a section to glory.

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