Alex Ross on Osmo Vänskä, the latest Finnish phenomenon, in the New Yorker:
On a recent night in Minneapolis, as the temperature plunged toward sixteen below zero, an unlikely midwinter carnival took place in Orchestra Hall. The Finnish conductor Osmo Vänskä, who became the music director of the Minnesota Orchestra in 2003, had decided to present a symphony by his countryman Kalevi Aho, and the orchestra chose to spotlight rather than hush up this contemporary intrusion into the gated community of “great composers.” A folk ensemble sang Finnish songs in the lobby. Finnish arts and crafts were for sale alongside characteristic pastries, including homemade snickerdoodles, which I enjoyed too much to question whether they were really Finnish. The hubbub drew in curious passersby. A couple walked up to the ticket window and asked, “What kinda show ya got tonight?” The cashier answered, “We’ve got some Mozart and some”—she paused—“Aho.” The couple blanched. “But Osmo is here,” she added. That closed the deal.
Vänskä is hugely popular in Minnesota, and this concert showed why.