Concert review: Conductor Klaus Mäkelä in the Munich Isarphilharmonie – Munich

Klaus Mäkelä is 27 years old, a conductor and already an overwhelming musician with his poetry, joy of playing and visions, whom everyone currently wants to hear and have. Now the tall, lanky and always in a good mood is standing in the Isarphilharmonie and leading his Orchester de Paris – he has been directing it since 2021 – through Jean Sibelius’ violin concerto and through Hector Berlioz’s “Symphonie fantastique”. Both pieces play idiosyncratically with tradition and listening habits, they combine the familiar with the weird, the populist with the visionary – and yet they are coherent solitaires.

Klaus Mäkelä conjures up idylls again and again, shimmering threads of sound come together in delicate networks, the sound is luminous, gentle, mild and soft. Mäkelä makes the sounds dance. He drives, but his passion is never violent. That’s why he succeeds, that’s a huge miracle even for such a miracle worker, who enlivens the slow movements just as intensely as the fast ones. In particular, Mäkelä’s country scene by Berlioz, which often lasts 20 minutes rather aridly, becomes a midsummer night’s dream trembling with anticipation, which makes the fears of every lover palpable.

In Mäkelä, the violinist Janine Jansen has a conductor who takes Sibelius’s orchestral part unusually seriously and is a partner who never presses her, never patronizes her, never drowns her out. But Mäkelä is demanding, and not only in the rapidly rocking final movement: Jansen becomes a high-wire artist, who daringly performs the most daring jumps and capers with virtuosity.

But already in the natural weaving of the beginning, Mäkelä Jansen asks us to always play a bit more beautifully and enticingly than the wonderful Parisian musicians, who love the quiet with just as much devotion as the volcanic eruptions in Berlioz’ Witches’ Sabbath, with which they and their master Catapult Mäkelä right into the heart of the Munich audience.

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