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Reviews NIKLAS WILLÉN
 

Thüringer Allgemeine 27/03/2017: Beethovens „Fidelio“ am DNT: Das Weimarer Freiheits - Oratorium
…So bedächtig, beinahe schleppend und doch konzis konturiert lässt Gastdirigent Niklas Willén dieses Mikro hörbar zu machen, wie eine unwiderstehliche Spannkraft sich aufbaut. Die Noblesse der solistischen Einsätze, zumal der Hörner, und das wunderbar austarierte, kompakte, zugleich transparente Klangbild unterliegen ein Könnerschaft und Augenmaß zeugt. …À la bonne heure! Was für ein Abend!  Wolfgang Hirsch

www.crescendo-magazine.be 18/11/2014: Les Solistes d’Hulencourt, Niklas Willén et Nelson Freire 
S’il est certain que le nombreux public qui garnissait le toujours accueillant Studio 4 de Flagey était avant tout venu écouter Nelson Freire, il est tout aussi certain que plus d’un auditeur aura été très agréablement surpris par la qualité des Solistes d’Hulencourt. Ce grand orchestre de chambre, constitué d’environ 50 jeunes musiciens issus de 19 pays européens est une vraie pépinière de talents. Pour ce concert, ces jeunes artistes bénéficièrent grandement d’être placés sous la direction de Niklas Willén, un chef suédois aux idées aussi claires que la battue, ultra-lisible.
Marche slave de TchaÏkovsky, le chef et ses jeunes troupes l’abordèrent avec franchise et enthousiasme, avec des cuivres et percussions en pleine forme .... …Le sommet du concert fut sans conteste le Deuxième concerto de Chopin où l’orchestre qui n’avait cessé de gagner en cohésion tout au long de la soirée se montra à son meilleur, désireux qu’il était sans doute d’offrir l’écrin que mérite un soliste de la classe de Nelson Freire.  - Patrice Lieberman

La Libre Belgique 13/11/2014: Le Chopin de Nelson Freire, une légende
Freire fut, il faut le souligner, plus que soutenu par la direction attentive et même prévenante de Niklas Willen.
L’apparition au pupitre de ce chef suédois peu connu hors Scandinavie fut une des autres bonnes surprises de la soirée : au service du soliste dans le concerto mais sans pour autant négliger le raffinement et l’expressivité du tissu orchestral, Willen sut convaincre aussi pendant le reste d’un programme fourni …
…avant le Chopin, le "Concert românesc" de Ligeti, œuvre d’accès plutôt facile pour du Ligeti mais requérant sens des couleurs mais aussi de l’humour, et on eut l’un et l’autre. Il y eut aussi, en lever et en baisser de rideau, Tchaïkovski : une Marche slave impeccable de mise en place et de puissance, puis la fantaisie symphonique d’après "La Tempête" de Shakespeare, œuvre d’inspiration inégale mais permettant de mettre en valeur l’orchestre. Et il y avait de quoi mettre en valeur : c’est que le "Hulencourt Soloists Chamber Orchestra" fut mercredi, bien plus qu’un simple orchestre de chambre, un véritable orchestre symphonique (près de 80 musiciens). Et combinant, qui plus est, l’énergie passionnée de la jeunesse (moins de trente ans de moyenne d’âge !) et le professionnalisme de musiciens déjà bien. Une formation sans nul doute à suivre, surtout quand on sait qu’elle aura dès l’an prochain Augustin Dumay pour directeur musical. 
Translation:
Freire was, it must be emphasized, rather than supported by the attentive and even considerate towards Niklas Willen. The appearance in the pulpit of the Swedish chef little known outside Scandinavia was one of the more pleasant surprises of the evening: at the service of the soloist in the concerto but without neglecting the elegance and expressiveness of the orchestral fabric, Willen was able to convince even during the rest of a well stocked program
Just before Chopin, Ligeti’s "Concert românesc" was played.  As Ligeti goes, this is one of his more accessible works but requiring sense for orchestral colors as well as humor, we got one and the other. There was also, t start the programme, Tchaikovsky: Marche Slave well put in place and powerfull, followed by the symphonic fantasy from "The Tempest" by Shakespeare, uneven work of inspiration, but it showed the orchestra’s qualities. And there were indeed some qualities to be appreciated : the "Hulencourt Soloists Chamber Orchestra" last Wednesday, was more than just a chamber orchestra, a real symphony orchestra (around 80 musicians). It combined the passionate energy of youth (average age of the musicians under thirty!)with the professionalism of already well seasoned musicians. Without doubt, an orchestra to follow, especially when we know that it will from next year have Augustin Dumay as their musical director. - Nicolas Blamont

Ruch Muzyczny 12/06/2011: Evening of nice surprises
“Willén led the Trumpet Concerto [by Kulenty] with Scandinavian elegance and an outstanding sensitivity to emotional feelings.  He especially dazzled in Nielsen’s Symphony No. 3. This decent, though academic and not actually very well written piece, was conducted with such deep conviction, freedom and joy it was as though it could have been at least Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7.  It was probably only thanks to the conductor that both the audience and the musicians let themselves get so involved in the work”. - Piotr Matwiejczuk

Neue Norddeutsche Nachrichten 18/10/2010: Rigoletto: Niklas Willén, Volkstheater Rostock
…the orchestra under the leadership of its GMD Niklas Willén produced colours in the music where the difference between the tender and lyrical passages in the arias and dramatic full sounding orchestral moments were very well balanced bringing the musical drama to life, … - Antje Jonas

Ostseezeitung 12/04/ 2010: Volkstheater Rostock - Mozart’s Marriage of Figaro
Niklas Willén, the new music director, gave the North German Philharmonic a fresh approach to Mozart, one with a witty easiness that was neither careless nor frivolous which brought this listener to the music’s usually dormant depths. He was the central figure in this drama, bringing verve and living tempi with an accurate balance of sound which brought so many lucid moments during the performance. - Heinz-Jürgen Staszak                  

Norddeutsche Neueste Nachrichten 12/04/2010:Volkstheater Rostock - Mozart’s Marriage of Figaro
The North German Philharmonic, conducted by its chief conductor and General Music Director Niklas Willén, played Mozart’s score in a fresh and stylish way that was also gallant and always well phrased. It was good to hear the music’s pulsating middle voices, the cantilena quality in the woodwind and an exquisite agility from the strings. From the beginning of the overture the orchestra played with amazing eagerness and a beautifully developed sound. - Michael Baumgartl

Ostzee-Zeitung  23/12/2008: „Patetique“: intense and emotional
The North German PO gave the audience a real Christmas present when, under the leadership the Swedish guest conductor Niklas Willèn, they gave an emotional and fascinating concert evening with a great power of expression. The orchestra played with such a splendid expression that the last breath of the last movement, the graceful music of the waltz and the enormous tension of the march theme stayed in the audience´s ears long after the concert had finished.
With a great musical intuition Niklas Willèn lead the musicians with clear gestures and dancelike movements. The orchestra responded by playing with a sound that was of vibrating intensity and with great beauty....Everyone got the impression that the conductor was absolutely present at every single moment. But at the same time he had full control of the dramatic lines. From the first mellow double-basses and bassoon tones through lively and wonderful sounds all the way to the end with the deep strings that slowly passed away. -  Michael Baumgartl

BournemouthEcho 16/10/2008: Concert sets a cracking standard
Oh what a cracker this concert turned out to be; Niklas Willén, conducting a BSO on tip-top form, set enviable standards for the rest of the season.
Chopin’s Piano concerto No.2 : The tuneful first movement, endowed with immaculately fluid playing and matched by Willen’s high energy direction of the BSO,
… Totally enthralling under Willén’s baton, the tales of Scheherazade in Rimsky-Korsakov’s much-loved work were conveyed with intuitive musicianship. The opening brass motif conjured an imposing, richly adorned Sultan and Duncan Riddell’s violin solo imbued the Princess’s femininity with an underlying strength. Solos from various Principals all brought that extra special lift to the score and with superb subtlety in the highly atmospheric Prince and Princess section.
Plunging into the colourful Festival of Baghdad and then aboard ship where Willén made the sea swirl and spume with mounting momentum until the crash of disaster, the final Scheherazade motif held with beguiling poignancy. Berlioz’ Le Corsaire Overture was equally impressive, … - Mike Marsh

 

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