John Storgards
© Marco BorggreveArtist

„Storgårds secures as compelling a rendering of 'The Bard' as I can ever recall.“

Gramophone
19 / 23

Biography

Principal Guest Conductor of the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra as well asCanada’s National Arts Centre Orchestra Ottawa,John Storgårds has a dual career as a conductor and violin virtuoso and is widely recognised for his creative flair for programming.  He additionally holds the title of Artistic Director of the Chamber Orchestra of Lapland.

Storgårds appears with such orchestras as WDR Sinfonieorchester Köln, Bamberger Symphoniker, Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, Orchestra Sinfonica Nazionale della RAI Torino, Royal Scottish National Orchestra, BBC Symphony, CBSO, Scottish Chamber Orchestra, Avanti! Chamber Orchestra, all the major Nordic orchestras including Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra where he was Chief Conductor 2008-2015. Further afield, he appears with Sydney, Melbourne and New Zealand Symphonies as well as Boston, St Louis, Toronto Symphonies and the Cleveland Orchestra. Soloists with whom he collaborates include Yefim Bronfman, Colin Currie, Sol Gabetta, Håkan Hardenberger, Kari Kriikku, Dejan Lazic, Karita Mattila, Gil Shaham, Baiba Skride, Christian Tetzlaff, Jean-Yves Thibaudet and Frank Peter Zimmermann.

His repertoire includes all symphonies by Sibelius, Nielsen, Bruckner, Brahms, Beethoven and Schumann, and with Helsinki Philharmonic last season he has undertaken a full cycle of all ten symphonies by Schubert.  With the Chamber Orchestra of Lapland he gave a historical cycle of all 54 symphonies by Mozart (including the unnumbered works).  He has given Finnish premieres of Schumann’s only opera ‘Genoveva’, and his early ‘Zwickau’ symphony, plus world premieres of Sibelius’ Suite op. 117 for violin and strings and the Late Fragments.  As a violinist, Storgårds also gave the Finnish premiere of Schumann’s own violin version of the cello concerto and his Violin Sonata No 3.  Storgårds regularly performs world premieres of works by contemporary composers such as Kaija Saariaho, Brett Dean and Per Nørgård and Pēteris Vasks.  Many of these composers have dedicated their works to him.  In opera Storgårds conducted the Finnish premiere of Haydn’s Orlando Paladino at the Finnish National Opera, a production which remains one of the most successful in Finland.  He has also conducted most Mozart operas and major operas by Strauss and Verdi.  As part of his imaginative programming with Lapland Chamber Orchestra, the group regularly performs opera – most recently Walton’s The Bear.

Highlights of this season include Storgårds’ return to the BBC Proms with the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra. He will take up his tenure as Principal Guest Conductor with the National Arts Centre Orchestra Ottawa and embark on tours to Mexico as well as Europe with Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra to mark the occasion of Jean Sibelius’s 150th birthday. Storgårds will give his Japanese debut with NHK Symphony Orchestra. Further debut appearances include New York Philharmonic and Vancouver Symphony Orchestra.

Storgårds’ vast discography includes recordings of works by Schumann, Mozart, Beethoven and Haydn.  With BBC Philharmonic, his much anticipated cycle of Sibelius symphonies was released on Chandos Records in spring 2014 and most recently a cycle of Nielsen symphonies released to critical acclaim. Other successes have included discs of works by Korngold and Rautavaara, the latter receiving a Grammy nomination and a Gramophone Award 2012.  His 2013 disc of Holmboe symphonies with Lapland Chamber Orchestra was shortlisted for a Gramophone Award and his recording of Pēteris Vasks’ Second Symphony and Violin Concerto, also featuring him as soloist, won the Cannes Classical Disc of the Year Award in 2004.

Storgårds studied violin with Chaim Taub and subsequently became concert master of the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra under Esa-Pekka Salonen, before studying conducting with Jorma Panula and Eri Klas. He received the Finnish State Prize for Music in 2002 and the Pro Finlandia Prize 2012.

SEASON 2015/2016

Quotes

“Mr. Storgards brought exceptional transparency and crisp articulation to Mahler’s colorful orchestral music. [...] Mr. Storgards emphasized the discontinuities and jarring turns of the music, as well as the piercing shards of dissonance that Sibelius folds into his deceptively sonorous harmonic language. Yet there was no sense of manipulation about the interpretation. Nothing was oversold or pumped up. The Philharmonic sounded sensational. During the standing ovation, the players clapped along with the audience every time Mr. Storgards took a bow.”

New York Times, Anthony Tommasini, 13.05.16

“Storgårds picked apart the composer’s multi-layered musical lines brilliantly, and never let up in a hugely moving Romanze slow movement.”

The Telegraph, David Kettle, 28.02.16

“There are few conductors around who are more riveting and involving in performance than Storgårds, [...] who gave an incredibly detailed account of the orchestral score, bringing wonderful variety to the string textures, an overarching beauty to the winds (especially at the end of the Canzonetta), and great Slavic fervour and anticipation to the dramatic, driving moments. The brass had remarkable ‘bite’. With this conducting, it seemed that a sense of musical space and natural motion just opened out as the work progressed – and the interaction and timing of soloist and conductor were impeccable.”

Vancouver Classical Music, Geoffrey Newman, 16.01.16

“Storgards presents Beethoven like the raging revolutionary he was. His conducting is valiant, fierce, and passionate, with Beethovenian bursts of violence.”

Ottawa Citizen, Natasha Gauthier, 06.01.16

“It is eye-opening to hear the (Nielsens) symphonies performed by John Storgårds and the BBC Philharmonic for their sheer gorgeousness.”

NewYorkArts.net, Steven Kruger, 04.11.15

“With Storgards, instinct and refinement become one, which is a rare gift indeed.”

The Telegraph, Ivan Hewitt, 21.07.15

“Bold and incisive as ever Storgårds launched into the work with a ferocious energy constructing a performance of structural integrity and thrilling playing that penetrated right to the core of the work. The crucial elements of dynamic flow and continual movement were compellingly conveyed.”

Seen and Heard International, Michael Cookson, 12.06.15

“Rarely have I heard these works (Nielsens) so convincingly constructed.”

Bachtrack, Rohan Shotton, 11.06.15

“Here that vitality is held in balance with an edgy, uneasy calm, as Storgårds explores both extremes to the full, galvanising his BBC players as he goes — neat packaging, fine recording.”

Financial Times, Richard Fairman, 05.06.15

“The sheer force and magnetism of the event boiled down to two words: John Storgards. [...] Storgards totally galvanised and ignited the RSNO in a grippingly-atmospheric and dramatic account of Sibelius's Nightride and Sunrise, where the chill, rustling pace of the gallop had the hair standing up on the back of my neck.”

The Herald Scotland, Michael Tumelty, 03.05.15

“Both cycles are of such a unique quality that they not only outclass all other recording of the last centuries […] but that they are even reference recordings in the history of records. […] If we should not have understood Sibelius until now, Storgårds and his musicians give us a magic key to this dark shining, adventurous and mysterious world.”

Crescendo, Christoph Schlüren, 01.10.14

“Storgårds conducted the most thrillingly dramatic performance of any symphony I have heard in years.”

Seen and Heard International, Michael Cookson, 14.10.14

“Storgårds had the orchestra blowing the roof off”

The Arts Desk, Philip Radcliffe, 12.10.14

“Storgårds led the Finnish orchestra in absolute harmony. This was not merely a mechanical delivery of the score, but a magnificent rendition of the piece where each musician contributed passionately”

Bach Track, Edoardo Pelligra, 10.08.14

“Early evidence of the Storgards effect came in Beethoven's "Fidelio" Overture. Though brief, the program opener spoke volumes about the man on the podium, revealing him to be an artist of bold intention and possessed of both theatrical and lyrical insight.”

The Plain Dealer Cleveland, Zachary Lewis, 28.07.14

“Guest conductor John Storgårds led a spirited performance distinguished by well-sprung rhythms and suitably transparent texture.”

Ottawa Citizen, Richard Todd, 06.14

“Storgårds and his admirable orchestra have much to tell us and do so with composure, conviction and eloquence.”

Gramophone, Andrew Achenbach, 06.14

“Through his clear, sincere and seemingly simple accounts, Storgårds drew you deep inside his music, for contemplation or bedazzlement. Storgårds’s light, bright, brisk performance [of Vaughan Williams’s Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis] was a million miles from the ecclesiastical edifices of sound that other conductors construct. It shone from within.”

The Scotsman (Scotland Sunday), David Kettle, 15.04.14

“Ein Heldenleben was given a dazzling performance of the quality of twenty four carat gold. The massive orchestra was held together with steadfast assurance. This is a colourful score packed with incident, and astonishing was the amount of rarely perceptible orchestral detail that Storgårds astutely revealed.”

Seen and Heard International, Michael Cookson, 11.03.14

“On Music Hall’s podium was Finnish maestro John Storgårds, whose direction of this music by his countryman was nothing short of breathtaking.”

Cincinnati News, Janelle Gelfand, 17.01.14

“The conductor, John Storgards, was leading with exuberant vitality. And the orchestra sounded terrific.”

The Washington Post, Anne Midgette, 8.11.13

“By giving this music room to breathe, Storgårds made us appreciate all the more how one phrase takes wing, or begets another, or changes tempo behind our backs. The notion that Sibelius conceived this symphony as agitprop for Finnish nationalism never entered our heads: we were listening simply to a compelling musical argument, beautifully paced, feelingly played.”

The Times, 9.06.13

“Storgårds is one of the great Sibelians of our day.”

The Telegraph, 7.06.13

“Storgårds mastery tells in small details such as the observation of the pause before the dramatic reprise of the scherzo or the luminous flickering landscape set before us in the Andante. His recording [of Korngold's Much Ado About Nothing] now supersedes the Barnet/BBC Philharmonic chandos account, which has done us proud for nearly 20 years.”

Gramophone, 1.03.2013

“At the other end of the programme, John Storgårds, a Finn with real purpose, directed a spanking performance by the SCO of Mendelssohn’s Fifth Symphony, the so-called Reformation, which demonstrated that the underplayed symphony can retain all its grandeur and solemnity while exuding a terrific dynamism that drives it forward.”

Herald Scotland, 10.12.12

“… yet Storgårds made the most of the opening movement’s seamless interplay of reflection and purposefulness on the way to its wrenching coda.”

classicalsource.com, Richard Whitehouse, 9.08.12

“The heartfelt beauty of the second movement and episodes of charging strings found within the third were all conveyed well by the BBC Philharmonic, conducted tonight by John Storgårds making his Proms debut.”

musicomh.com., Steven Johnson, 9.08.12

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Discography

Per Nørgård Symphonies 4 & 5Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra, John StorgårdsMay. 2016, Dacapo, CD, Available on: Amazon
RautavaaraRubáiyát, Balada, Canto V Four Songs from RasputinMay. 2016, Ondine, CD, Available on: Amazon
Sunleif Rasmussen Symphony No.2'THE EARTH ANEW'May. 2016, Dacapo, CD
Per Nørgård Symphonies 2 & 6Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra, John StorgårdsApr. 2016, Dacapo, CD
Dvořák - SukJosef Suk Fantasy in G minor, Op. 24 Antonin Dvořák Violin Concerto in A Minor, Op. 53 Romance, Op. 11Mar. 2016, Ondine ODE 1279-5, CD, Available on: iTunes Amazon
Berlioz, Chausson, DuparcSoile Isokoski, Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra and John Storgårds performing orchestral songs by Chausson, Berlioz and DuparcJul. 2015, Ondine, CD, Available on: Amazon
Nielsen: Complete SymphoniesJohn Storgårds and the BBC Philharmonic present a complete set of Carl Nielsen's symphonies.Jun. 2015, Chandos, CD, Available on: Amazon
Wallin: ManyworldsThis CD and Pure audio Blu-ray release includes three orchestral works by Rolf Wallin performed by John Storgårds, Håkan Hardenberger and the Bergen Symphony Orchestra.May. 2015, Ondine, CD, Available on: Amazon
Zemlinsky: Seejungfrau / SinfoniettaThe Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra under John Storgårds offer a fascinating program of two major orchestral works by Alexander Zemlinsky (18711942), arr. by Roland Freisitzer, as ...Mar. 2015, Ondine, CD, Available on: Amazon
Shostakovich Violin Concertos 1&2Christian Tetzlaff with the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra and John StorgårdsSep. 2014, Ondine, CD, Available on: Amazon
Sibelius: Complete SymphoniesJohn Storgårds, Principal Guest Conductor of the BBC Philharmonic, presents his first recording on Chandos, a complete symphonic cycle of his nation's greatest musical export, Jean ...Mar. 2014, Chandos, CD, Available on: Amazon
Robert Schumann Violinkonzerte • PhantasieThis CD of Baiba Skride, John Storgårds and the Danish National Symphony Orchestra features works by Schumann, including the renowned Violin Concerto.Jul. 2013, Orfeo, CD, Available on: Amazon
Leevi MadetojaThis new release of works by Finnish composer Leevi Madetoja features his Symphony No. 2 as well as the symphonic poem Kullervo and Elegy.Jan. 2013, Ondine, CD, Available on: Amazon
Korngold: Much Ado About NothingThis release of Erich Wolfgang Korngold's Much Ado About Nothing and Sinfonietta follows Ondine's release of the Symphony in F sharp and the Tänzchen im alten Stil.Nov. 2012, Ondine, CD, Available on: Amazon
Chamber SymphoniesJohn Storgårds with Chamber Symphony Nos. 1, 2 & 3 by Vagn Holmboe and the Lapland Chamber OrchestraJun. 2012, Dacapo, CD, Available on: Amazon
RautavaaraWorks by Einojuhani Rautavaara: Cello Concerto No. 2, Modificata & Percussion Concerto "Incantations"Feb. 2012, Ondine, CD, Available on: iTunes Amazon
KorngoldJohn Storgårds with works by Erich Wolfgang Korngold: Symphony in f sharp major Op.40 and Tänzchen im alten StilMar. 2011, Ondine, CD, Available on: iTunes Amazon
Sibelius: Violin ConcertoWith Frank Peter Zimmermann and works by Sibelius: Violin Concerto in d minor op.47, The Bard op.64 & The Wood Nymph op.15Aug. 2010, Ondine, CD, Available on: iTunes Amazon
Peteris VasksWorks by Peteris Vasks (Symphony No. 3 & Cello concerto) with the Tampere Philharmonic OrchestraNov. 2006, Ondine, CD, Available on: Amazon

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