“Officially, Paavo Järvi’s tenure as Principal Conductor and Music Director of the Tonhalle-Orchester Zürich will not commence in less than a year” wrote the Neue Zürcher Zeitung. “But Järvi is already guesting in Zurich in the season 2018/19 with four programs, giving a foretaste of what he hopes to achieve in the future. That’s why the Estonian conductor’s first appearance last wednesday was eagerly awaited, with the character of a de facto debut. The concert hall in Tonhalle Maag was almost sold out, and the Tonhalle Orchestra played with the first set of members. And Järvi – as anticipated – fulfilled the ambitious expectations more than enough, indeed at the end of the concert he was euphorically celebrated by the Zurich audience.”

Praise for Paavo Järvi’s first concerts with the Tonhalle-Orchester Zürich this month were unanimous. Seen and Heard International commented “If this was the first day of his honeymoon with the orchestra, then married life will look rosy, if the cheering after the Mahler symphony was anything to go by … The performance – and the orchestra’s playing – was, in a word, sensational. At the end of the symphony, large sections of the audience (a full house) erupted; the orchestra seemed stunned. Järvi beamed. He could sense he too had made a wise choice … a Golden Age beckons.”

Peter Hagmann wrote “The members of the Tonhalle-Orchester Zürich have not performed so close to the edge of their seats for a long time … And now it is there, the fresh breeze. She has a very fresh effect, and she goes through the orchestra from A to Z – all the way to the administration – Without shyness, Järvi grabs the bull by the horns. He aims at the legacy that David Zinman has left behind. And he shows how things can be different – with Gustav Mahler and Ludwig van Beethoven … A new path is emerging for the Tonhalle-Orchester Zürich. Exciting how it will go on.”

And commented: “The famous Adagietto (of Mahler 5) wove the richest possible orchestral tapestry, and highlighted both a celestial harp and the slightly restrained pacing that fills the listener with the thrill of anticipation … the Estonian’s command of the huge configuration was superb, and his rapport with the group seemed as amenable as it was supportive. Expectations are always great on the occasion of a conductor’s new posting, as well they should be. The Zurich public and the Tonhalle’s audience look forward to the Järvi era.”

Following his current performances with the Berlin Philharmonic, Paavo Järvi reunites with the Tonhalle-Orchester Zürich at the end of the month for a tour of Asia which includes concerts in Beijing, Shanghai, Taipei and Seoul.