Stéphane Denève gave a compelling first performance with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra in its production of Frank Martin’s Golgotha during the 2013 Passion and Palm Sunday Performances. The French conductor now returns to the orchestra for the third year in a row to lead it in a programme featuring works including Jean Sibelius’s vast Second Symphony. The heroic, upbeat first and last movements were exactly what the Finnish public needed under Russian oppression in 1902. The successful premiere confirmed Sibelius’s reputation as Finland’s national hero, and the Second Symphony soon scored triumphs outside the country as well.
Denève is also conducting the world premiere of a rather unusual work. Vincent Cortvrint, the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra’s piccolo player, is making his first solo appearance with his very own orchestra, which recently commissioned the celebrated Estonian composer Erkki-Sven Tüür to write a new piccolo concerto. Tüür, who first trained as a flautist and percussionist, has composed a number of solo concertos, but never for piccolo or flute. His new piccolo concerto is entitled Solastalgia, a term which describes a form of psychic distress caused by environmental change.