Closing piano concert on Sunday April 16th
SINCE HIS DEBUT WITH THE ROYAL STOCKOLM PHILHARMONIC IN 1981, ROLAND PÖNTINEN HAS PERFORMED WITH MAJOR ORCHESTRAS THROUGHOUT THE WORLD. HE HAS BEEN INVITED TO MANY PRESTIGIOUS FESTIVALS INCLUDING SCHLESWIG-HOLSTEIN, VERBIER AND MOSTLY MOZART FESTIVAL, N.Y. AND WORKED WITH CONDUCTORS LIKE ESA-PEKKA SALONEN, RAFAEL FRÜHBECK DE BURGOS, EVGENY SVETLANOV AND LEIF SEGERSTAM TO NAME A FEW. HIGHLIGHTS INCLUDE PERFORMANCES WITH THE PHILHARMONIA ORCHESTRA IN PARIS AND LONDON, LOS ANGELES PHILHARMONIC IN THE HOLLYWOOD BOWL, WITH THE SCOTTISH CHAMBER ORCHESTRA IN GLASGOW AND EDINBURGH AS WELL AS APPEARANCES AT THE LONDON PROMS WHERE HE HAS PLAYED BOTH THE GRIEG PIANO CONCERTO AND THE LIGETI PIANO CONCERTO.
Thanks to an insatiable musical appetite and a stupendous technique he has acquired a vast repertoire ranging from Bach to Ligeti. The emphasis is on the ”golden era” in piano literature from the 19th century – through the first half of the 20th century with composers such as Debussy, Busoni, Szymanowski and Rachmaninov. Often immersed in large scale projects Pöntinen has recently performed the complete cycles of Beethoven Sonatas and Années de pèlerinage by Liszt.
Many composers, among them Sven-Erik Bäck, Veli-Matti Puumala, Anders Eliasson and Anders Hillborg, have dedicated works to him and in 2007 he gave the world premiere of Shchedrin’s Romantic Duets together with the composer at the Verbier Festival. Always in great demand as a chamber player Pöntinen has worked with artists of distinction like Barbara Hendricks, Janine Jansen, Nobuko Imai, Peter Mattei, Martin Fröst, Zvi Zeitlin, Ulf Wallin, Torleif Thedéen, Håkan Hardenberger, Arve Tellefsen, Christian Lindberg and Nicolai Gedda.
Pöntinen has given recitals in New York (The Frick Collection), London (Wigmore Hall), Bogotá, Istanbul, Stockholm and, most recently, at the Verbier Festival last summer. Recent appearances with orchestras include Rachmaninov’s Paganini Rhapsody with Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, Shostakovich’s First Concerto with Orchestre de La Suisse Romande, the Schumann Concerto with Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra and in January 2017 Messiaen’s Turangalîla-Symphony with Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra under Sakari Oramo.
During last two seasons he has toured Japan, Taiwan, England, Scandinavia and Holland. In June 2017 Pöntinen recorded Bernstein’s The Age of Anxiety with the Arctic Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Christian Lindberg, adding to an extensive discography of nearly 100 recordings for a.o. BIS, c p o, Arte Nova, EMI, Philips and his own label Haddock.
Roland Pöntinen is also active as a composer and his Blue Winter was performed by the Philadelphia Orchestra under Wolfgang Sawallisch at Carnegie Hall in 1998. His latest work, L’éléphant rose for trumpet and piano, written for Håkan Hardenberger, was premiered at Wigmore Hall in 2016. He has also arranged music by Legrand, Joni Mitchell and Weill for Hardenberger and Academy of St Martin in the Fields.
Pöntinen is a member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Music and in 2002 he received the Litteris et Artibus – a royal medal for recognition of eminent skills in the artistic field.
The first works of Roland Pöntinen, not counting numerous compositional attempts of his childhood, were composed for his own jazz group, formed in 1981. The music was a mix of be-bop, fusion and Pöntinen’s own melodious style and scored for the flexible number of players in the band: piano, bass, drums, strings, saxophones, sometimes with an added flute or bassoon. One of these pieces, Camera, a continuous melody of eighty bars, never repeating any section, was later transformed into a work for trombone and piano, dedicated to Christian Lindberg. The extensive collaboration with Lindberg soon resulted in a bigger piece for trombone and strings, Blue Winter, which was written especially for Christian Lindberg’s CD The Winter Trombone but never performed live. Blue Winter was premiered more than ten years later in Philadelphia and in Carnegie Hall, New York, by trombonist Nitzan Haroz and The Philadelphia Orchestra under Wolfgang Sawallisch. Pöntinen writes music as often as his busy touring schedule as a concert pianist permits and even then only for his own pleasure or if a good friend like Martin Fröst or Håkan Hardenberger would ask him to. His undiminished interest in jazz and pop music has inspired him to write many arrangements of music by Kate Bush, Radiohead, David Bowie and others. His most recent achievement in this field are arrangements of songs by Weill, Legrand, Joni Mitchell i.e. written for Håkan Hardenberger and recorded by Hardenberger and Academy of St Martin-in-the-Fields on the CD Both Sides Now, (BIS SACD-1814).
Danse Serpentine was composed for clarinetist Martin Fröst and premiered by Fröst and the composer in Wigmore Hall in April 2010. The duo also played the piece in Cologne and Berlin. Hillary Finch wrote in The Times after the London premiere: ”Pöntinen’s own Danse Serpentine was written specially for this Wigmore Hall premiere, and its eight minutes of curves and flurries were an artfully shaped showpiece for both performers as tone-colourists.” A later version of this piece for violin, two pianos, celesta, vibraphone and marimba was premiered in Accademia di Santa Cecilia, Rome, in November 2010. The musicians were: Mats Zetterqvist, Roland Pöntinen, Roberto Prosseda, Alessandra Ammara, Anders Loguin and Rodolfo Rossi.
Roland Pöntinen will be performing during our conference with a piano concert on closing day, Sunday 16th of April at 11.30.
Click on the image above to watch a video about the piano master Roland Pöntinen on SVT (Swedish television), in Swedish.