Currently Artistic Director and Principal Conductor of the Turku Philharmonic Orchestra, Olli Mustonen has a unique place on today’s music scene. Following the tradition of great masters such as Rachmaninov, Busoni and Enescu, Mustonen combines the roles of his musicianship as composer, pianist and conductor in an equal balance that is quite exceptional, often bringing them together in one fascinating triple role performance.
During an illustrious career, Mustonen has brought his extraordinary musical insight to many of world’s most significant orchestras, including the Berlin Philharmonic, New York and Los Angeles Philharmonic orchestras, Chicago Symphony, Cleveland Orchestra, Royal Concertgebouw Orkest, Mariinsky Theatre Orchestra, Orchestre de Paris and all the London orchestras.
Recipient of the 2019 Hindemith Prize of the City of Hanau, Mustonen’s life as a composer is at the heart of his piano playing and conducting. Frequently bringing his own works to the chamber music stage, recent seasons have seen the World Premiere of his work Taivaanvalot (Heavenly Lights) for Tenor, Cello and Piano at Het Muziekgebouw, Amsterdam, performed by Mustonen himself, alongside Ian Bostridge and Steven Isserlis. Further performances took place at London’s Wigmore Hall and in Hong Kong. A further World Premiere was his new string sextet, commissioned by the Beethoven Festival Bonn and first performed in February 2020.
As a recitalist, Mustonen has appeared in recent seasons at the Diaghilev Festival Perm, Dresden Festival, Cal Performances Berkeley, Symphony Center Chicago, New York Zankel Hall and Sydney Opera House. With Steven Isserlis, Mustonen has performed as a duo for more than thirty years. 2019 saw the release of their disc of Russian works for cello and piano on the Hyperion label.
Particularly close to Mustonen’s heart are the piano concertos of Beethoven, Prokofiev, and Bartok, all of which he has performed with leading orchestras. His repertoire also includes Respighi’s Concerto in modo misolidio, which he has recorded with the Finnish Radio Symphony and Sakari Oramo on the Ondine label. A recently completed recording project has been all of Bartok’s and Prokofiev’s piano concertos, also for the Ondine label.
Formed under the midnight sun in Lofoten in 2005, the Engegård Quartet has rapidly become one of Norway’s most sought after ensembles. Their bold, fresh interpretations of the classical repertoire combined with a deep attachment to their Scandinavian roots has attracted international acclaim, and inspired some innovative partnerships and programming. The quartet’s debut CD was praised as ‘breath-taking’ in The Strad, while their second release won Pizzicato magazine’s ‘Supersonic Award’. Their CD of works by Grieg, Sibelius and Olav Anton Thommessen was praised by Tully Potter in Music Web International as ‘what Grieg lovers have been waiting for’. Recent CD releases include Mozart’s ‘Prussian Quartets’ and the complete string quartets of Schumann.
The Engegård Quartet has a busy concert schedule throughout Scandinavia and further afield. They have performed in some of Europe’s finest venues including the Mozarteum in Salzburg and Prague’s Rudolfinum, and have travelled to South America for concerts in Bogotá and Sao Paolo. Festival performances include the Delft Chamber Music Festival, SoNoRo Festival in Bucharest, and Heidelberg’s Streichquartettfest. Members of the quartet are also deeply involved in bringing superb chamber music to Norway – Arvid Engegård as founder of the Lofoten International Chamber Music Festival, and Juliet Jopling as artistic director of the Oslo Quartet Series.
The Engegård Quartet has had the honour to work with (among others) András Schiff, Leif Ove Andsnes, Christian Ihle Hadland, and Emma Johnson. They also love to collaborate with colleagues from different musical traditions, including a folk/classical fusion with Hardanger fiddler Nils Økland, a collaboration with jazz-violinist Ola Kvernberg, and a programme of Ibsen and late Beethoven with actor Bjørn Sundquist. The Engegård Quartet’s own ‘1-2-3 mini-festival’ has proven immensely popular and is now a regular event each fall.