Let's Finnish

Next week, the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra is in New York, showing Gotham how good we got it. This weekend, the SLSO offers two sneak peeks at the Carnegie Hall performances, which feature a heady blend of the spiritual and the cosmic. Richard Wagner's "Good Friday Music" from Act III of Parsifal is a meditation on the cleansing power of a beautiful spring day, and the redemptive qualities of nature on the human soul. The natural world was similarly an inspiration for Finnish composer Jean Sibelius, whose life-affirming and joyful Symphony No. 5 closes out the program; but it's Sibelius tone poem Luonnotar that may be the most anticipated performance. This song of creation, taken from the Finnish national epic the Kalevala, tells of the Maiden of the Air who inhabited a lonely universe, until she pleads with the god Ukko for offspring. Finnish soprano Karita Mattila's recorded performance of Luonnotar is spine-melting, her voice a haunting keen that expands outward to flood the crannies of the universe — and Mattila will make her SLSO debut to sing this, as well as Kaija Saariaho's Mirage. The Carnegie Hall Preview is performed at 8 p.m. Friday and 3 p.m. Sunday (March 27 and 29) at Powell Symphony Hall (718 North Grand Boulevard; 314-534-1700 or www.slso.org). Tickets are $16 to $105.
Fri., March 27; Sun., March 29, 2009

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