The next new Finnish star conductor takes the stand in Disney Hall

11.13.16
Johannes Moser
Los Angeles Times

Not everything is a surprise with Santtu-Matias Rouvali, a 31-year-old former Los Angeles Philharmonic Dudamel Fellow who returned Friday night to Walt Disney Concert Hall for his first subscription concert with the L.A. Phil.  
Rouvali, just appointed music director of the Gothenburg Symphony in Sweden, is Finnish — yet further confirmation that his small country produces more major conductors per capita than anyplace else.
He is of slight build and has a bushy mop of hair. We’ve had a few of those over the years.
And he has a certain flamboyance. Ditto, even if the stereotypical Finn tends not to be demonstrative. 
His program here was commonplace and weighed down with warhorses: Dvorák’s Cello Concerto with Johannes Moser as soloist and Sibelius’ First Symphony.
A week earlier at Duke University in North Carolina, Moser joined the Pacifica Quartet for the world premiere of a new string quintet by the newly minted MacArthur Fellow Julia Wolfe. Moser, moreover, will also premiere a new piece by L.A. composer Ellen Reid in February as part of this year’s Laguna Beach Music Festival. Meanwhile, Rouvali makes his debut with the Cincinnati Symphony next week conducting Sibelius’ more challenging last two symphonies (Nos. 6 and 7) along with Esa-Pekka Salonen’s Violin Concerto (with Jennifer Koh as soloist).
Next to Durham and Cincinnati, L.A. might have seemed uncharacteristically uninventive. It wasn’t. We compensated with riveting, original music making, everything seeming not only vital but oddly relevant.
The outlier work was Alexander Mosolov’s “Iron Foundry,” a four-minute 1927 Soviet exclamation of a machine age promising to transform Russian society and its art. Relying on the thrill of noise and dissonance in this balletic tidbit, Mosolov anticipated by more than half a century industrial rock and heavy metal. The Constructivist score today might well resonate with many angry Americans’ nostalgia for an era of factories run by manpower. Read the rest of the review here