Alpha begins a complete cycle of the symphonies by Sibelius (and of his symphonic poems) with the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra and its new musical director, Finnish conductor Santtu-Matias Rouvali. Originally a percussionist, the 33-year-old trained at the famous Sibelius Academy. His career took off after he stepped in at the last minute to conduct the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra. In the great tradition of Finnish conductors, Santtu-Matias Rouvali is known for his extremely physical and organic interpretations: ‘Music unmistakeably flows from him,’ commented The Sunday Times. When Bachtrack asked him how he shapes the orchestral sound, he replied: ‘I sing it, I move my hands the way I want it (…) the conductor should be able to show tempo somewhere in the body (…) I was also a drum kit player, so my feet and hands can do different things at the same time. When you read the score, you sing it in your head (…) I think it’s the sense of inside groove that you get from playing percussion which is very important in Sibelius’s music.’
In the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra (GSO) he finds a prestigious cohort of musicians with an impressive discography, and joins a line of their illustrious musical directors, notably Neeme Järvi, the orchestra’s principal conductor from 1982 to 2004, but also Gustavo Dudamel – who made his first major recordings with the GSO – Christoph Eschenbach, Kent Nagano, and others.