Dramatic triumphs or triumphant drama? Both are appropriate when thinking of the music performed in Stavanger Symphony Orchestra’s concert titled “Drama and Triumph” in early March

Conducted by chief conductor Christian Vasquez, the orchestra delved head first into the world of Shakespeare’s Hamlet, composed by Igor Tchaikovsky, tackled Alexander Arutunian’s famous trumpet concerto brilliantly played by guest soloist Tine Thing Helseth, before ending up in Finland with Jean Sibelius’ 2nd symphony which often has been associated with the Finnish fight for independence.

The concert started off with the Hamlet ouverture. Chief conductor Vasquez led the orchestra through the piece with great skill, letting the powerful dramatic swells permeate the Fartein Valen hall, while also giving enough room for the instruments to breathe when called for, especially during the beautiful performance of the oboe solo in the middle section.

Tine Thing Helseth’s performance of Arutiunian’s trumpet concerto in A-flat major was a highlight. The concerto has such an emotional range from the dramatic opening notes to the playful and almost triumphant mood just minutes later. Helseth is one of the world’s foremost trumpet players and it shows! All the way through, she displays not only a mastery of the instrument, but a confidence on stage that leads to a very immersive performance, effortlessly pulling the audience in. She was thrilled to perform the concerto with the Stavanger Symphony Orchestra and it also was the first time in some years since her last performance of the piece.

“I was 14 the first time I played the piece, so it has been with me for a long time. At that time it was a difficult piece to play, something it isn’t anymore, not in the same way. It is a delightful piece, as you get to pour out emotions. I haven’t played it in some years and I notice that I’ve evolved a lot as a person during that time. Earlier I think I tried to play emotions I hadn’t experienced yet. I had an idea of how I wanted to play, but it was more like imagining emotions and how I thought they would be.”, says Tine Thing Helseth.


Christian Vasquez and Tine Thing Helseth. (Photo: Stavanger Symphony Orchestra)

Christian Vasquez and Tine Thing Helseth. (Photo: Stavanger Symphony Orchestra)

In the second half the orchestra performed Sibelius’ 2nd symphony, rounding off the evening in a properly triumphant way. This was familiar territory for the orchestra and the performance really displayed the great relationship between Christian Vasquez on the podium and the musicians, with everyone in tune as to what direction to take the music at any given time.

“I remember we played Sibelius’ 2nd symphony a couple of years ago and they played it good. But last night, wow! The colours, intonation, balance, the contact between the musicians and me, everything was stunning. At times I felt like I was floating!”, said Christian Vasquez after the concert

All in all it was a wonderful evening which the German audience in Bodensee soon will get to experience, when the orchestra, conductor and soloist all repeat the programme during their appearance at the Bodensee Festival on May 12th. Chief conductor Christian Vasquez is very excited to perform abroad with the orchestra.

It will be a beautiful, sort of Scandinavian program with the Sibelius symphony and a Norwegian, world famous soloist. It is a great opportunity for this great orchestra to play in a country with such tradition”, Vasquez said in closing.



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