Not quite the polar vertex, but a Nordic breeze found its way to our classical music scene recently. Last week, Finnish conductor Osmo Vänskä led the symphony into some music that came in from the cold: Sibelius, Rachmaninoff and Stravinsky. Last week, Swedish mezzo Anne Sofie von Otter joined Manny Ax on stage for a recital combining modern music with Brahms. And Canadian pianist Marc-Andre Hamelin gave a dazzling recital at the Nourse Theater.
Osmo Vänskä: Osmo Vänskä is a free man nowadays: the musicians of Minnesota Symphony orchestra, where he had been the music director since 2003, have been locked out 15 months from October 2012, when management thought they could ride over them like tenants with a Google shuttle. The situation reached its ubuesque peak when the management noted that, by not paying the musicians and not performing any concert, they had actually improved their balance sheet. If their point was: an orchestra would rake in money by keeping gifts and grants and not spending it on performing, then Vänskä took the right decision and handed out his resignation last year (the labor dispute has been since resolved and musicians got back to work this month). And he was on the podium at Davies last week, in music by Sibelius and others.