Photo: Mats Bäcker
Since his debut with the Royal Stockolm Philharmonic in 1981, Roland Pöntinen has performed with major orchestras throughout the world. He has been invited to many prestigious festivals including Schleswig-Holstein, Verbier and La Roque d’Antheron and worked with conductors like Esa-Pekka Salonen, Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos, Evgeny Svetlanov and Leif Segerstam to name a few.
Highlights include performances with the Philharmonia Orchestra in Paris and London, Los Angeles Philharmonic in the Hollywood Bowl, with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra in Glasgow and Edinburgh as well as appearances at the London Proms where he has played both the Grieg Piano Concerto and the Ligeti Piano Concerto.
Thanks to an insatiable musical appetite and a stupendous technique he has acquired a vast repertoire ranging from Bach to Ligeti. The emphasis is on the ”golden era” in piano literature from the 19th century – through the first half of the 20th century with composers such as Debussy, Busoni, Szymanowski and Rachmaninov. Many composers, among them Sven-Erik Bäck, Veli-Matti Puumala, Anders Eliasson and Anders Hillborg, have dedicated works to him and in 2007 he gave the world premiere of Shchedrin’s Romantic Duets together with the composer at the Verbier Festival. The 2012-13 season includes solo recitals in London and New York as well as performances with L’Orchestre de la Suisse Romande.
Always in great demand as a chamber player Pöntinen has worked with artists of distinction like Barbara Hendricks, Ulf Wallin, Nobuko Imai, Martin Fröst, Zvi Zeitlin, Torleif Thedéen, Håkan Hardenberger, Arve Tellefsen, Christian Lindberg and Nicolai Gedda.
Together with Love Derwinger he shares the responsibility of the Forum in Stockholm, wellknown for its events juxtaposing music with literature and art.
His keen interest in dance has resulted in many different collaborations such as playing Stravinsky’s Le Sacre together with Derwinger and the Paul Taylor Dance Company, performances with Kathleen Quinlan in Isadora Duncan choreographies, Beethoven’s 32 Variations with GöteborgOperans Ballet and in 2009 one of his Satie recordings was used as soundtrack in Mats Ek’s ”Den Andre” danced by Mikhail Baryshnikov and Niklas Ek.
Roland Pöntinen is also active as a composer and his Blue Winter was performed by the Philadelphia Orchestra at Carnegie Hall in 1998. His Danse serpentine for clarinet and piano had it’s world premiere at Wigmore Hall in 2010 with Martin Fröst. Pöntinen has also arranged music by Weill, Joni Mitchell and Legrand a.o. for Håkan Hardenberger and the Academy of Saint Martin in the Fields. These arrangements were recorded on the cd Both Sides Now (BIS-1814).
He has made more than ninety recordings for a.o. BIS, c p o, Arte Nova, EMI and Philips, the latest of which are ”Pianorama” on the BIS label with piano music from his favourite films, three volumes of Busoni on c p o, Rachmaninov’s Etudes-Tableaux on Pan Classics,”For Agnès” on his own label Haddock with Children’s corner by Debussy, Schumann’s Kinderszenen, Prole do bebê by Villa-Lobos and Children’s songs by Chick Corea and ”Pöntinen plays Szymanowski” on BIS.
Pöntinen is a member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Music and in 2001 he received the Litteris et Artibus – a royal medal for recognition of eminent skills in the artistic field.
In 2011 he performed Liszt’s La lugubre gondola at the Nobel Lecture given for Nobel Prize Laureate in Literature Tomas Tranströmer.