As a musical interpreter, Olli Mustonen the conductor is very like Olli Mustonen the pianist. Detail after detail is finely articulated, as though etched with the point of a needle... the clarity and extraordinary finesse yield something I can only describe as visionary. BBC MUSIC MAGAZINE
Olli Mustonen is a fascinating artist who brings exceptional intelligence and musicianship to every one of his experiences on the concert stage. Working time and again with the world’s leading orchestras, Olli has recently released the second and last volume of the complete Prokofiev Piano Concertos, recorded with the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra and Hannu Lintu for the Ondine label.
Newly appointed as 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 spanning 35 years, Mustonen has brought his extraordinary musical insight to many of the 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, last season saw 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 new string sextet, commissioned by the Beethoven Festival Bonn, also had its world premiere in February 2020.
Elsewhere, highlights of last season included concerts in Italy with the St. Petersburg Philharmonic, a tour of South America, as well as recitals in Italy, Germany’s Klavierfestival Ruhr, Singapore, and Finland. In the 2020/21 season, Mustonen officially commences his directorship of the Turku Philharmonic Orchestra. Another main feature of his season will be as guest artist in the Tonhalle Orchester Zürich’s “In Focus” series. He will be presented as an “extraordinary artist who inspires the audience with his individual approach and new concepts”, and appear with Music Director Paavo Järvi as soloist in Bartóks piano concert No. 1, in addition to a chamber recital with orchestra members including a performance of Mustonen’s own Piano Quintet. In Japan he will perform as a soloist with the NHK Symphony and the Sapporo Symphony Orchestras. He will also perform with the Prague Philharmonia, the Deutsche Radiophilharmonie Saarbrücken, and in solo recitals including at the Chopin Institute in Warsaw and the Tokyo Spring Festival, as well as in duo concerts with Steven Isserlis in several European countries.
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. He is completing his recording projects encompassing all of Bartok and Prokofievs’ piano concertos, also for the Ondine label.
Born in Helsinki, Olli Mustonen began his studies in piano, harpsichord, and composition at the age of five. Initially learning with Ralf Gothoni, he subsequently studied piano with Eero Heinonen and composition with Einojuhani Rautavaara.