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Selected quotes

"Brisk, exciting and unpredictable."

The Wall Street Journal, 5.4.2024

"Alternately furious and stunned emotional burden."

The New York Times, 5.4.2024

“Highly personal relationship to the tonality, which in combination with an unfailing dramaturgical mind and a flawlessness for orchestral music makes him a rather odd bird.”
Hufvudstadsbladet, 10.4.2021

“Harmoniously beautiful, streamlined and delicate music with enough interest in the textures, sometimes even edging.”
Finnish Broadcasting Company YLE, 1.12.2021

“Excellent command of collaboration with musicians and an advanced understanding of sound and of drama.”
FMQ (Finnish Music Quarterly) 6.5.2021

Reviews of Double Concerto (2022)

"Russia's attack on Ukraine influenced the work, where the horrors of war are mixed with dreams

A mournful song turns into shivers of terror and a dance of death in Zinoviev's strong Double Concerto.


SAULI ZINOVJEV (b. 1988) has enjoyed his music in neo-romantic tonal landscapes. In romantic night moods begins his latest work, Double Concerto for violin, piano and strings, which has just received its premiere.

However, a dark shadow has appeared in Zinoviev's tone. The composer says that the Russian attack on Ukraine has affected the nature of his work.


Hugo Ticciati's violin weaved a light sad song over the dark warm chord flow of Simon Crawford-Phillips's grand piano in the double call at the beginning of the first part called Nachtmusik. 

Daydreaming turned into shuddering tremolos. The sound of the grand piano turned into a menacing thump and a thick sound lava erupted from the string orchestra. A dream turned into a nightmare and chaos.

The second movement, Pas de deux, began as a violin and piano dance, but the dance pattern soon distorted into machine-beating rhythms of war and dances of death.

The last part, Belle Epoque 2 started with a massive sonic explosion. Amidst the sounds of destruction and collapsing structures, painfully wistful memories of the beautiful past stood out from time to time.


Zinoviev's novelty is a strong story with a dramatic rhythm. Ryan Bancroft led a darkly glorious performance as a thriller, amid the dangers of which skillful soloists bravely ventured."

Hannu-Ilari Lampila / Helsingin Sanomat, 3.3.2023 / / Hugo Ticciati, Simon Crawford-Phillips, Tapiola Sinfonietta & Ryan Bancroft

Reviews of Piano Concerto (2019)

“It is an extremely elegant and eventful piece of music that tests both the orchestra’s and the piano’s dynamic boundaries with both pecking treble and thundering bass rumble.”
Johanna Paulsson / Dagens Nyheter, 5.2.2022 / Vikingur Olafsson, Swedish RSO & Klaus Mäkelä

“The concerto gets the listener’s emotions moving, it evokes a strong pathos, a lyrical desire to dream and wild playfulness. It’s a grand and fast-paced virtuoso concerto that also has its meditative calm sides.”
Hannu-Ilari Lampila / Helsingin Sanomat, 8.1.2022 / / Vikingur Olafsson, Finnish RSO & Klaus Mäkelä

“Zinovjev, himself a pianist, has written an idiomatic and grateful solo part seen from every conceivable point of view, specially designed as it is for Icelandic star pianist Víkingur Ólafsson”
Mats Liljeroos / Hufvudstadsbladet, 9.1.2022 / / Vikingur Olafsson, Finnish RSO & Klaus Mäkelä

Reviews of Wiegenlied (2020)

“A short masterpiece, a lived soundtrack in just eleven minutes.”
Olav Emil Aune / VL (Vårt Land), 20.8.2020 / Oslo Philharmonic & Klaus Mäkelä

“The master orchestrator Zinovjev has painted a dramatically dark mood, sometimes slightly anxious and quite magnificently colored fresco.”
Mats Liljeroos / Hufvudstadsbladet, 23.12.2021 / Helsinki Philharmonic & Klaus Mäkelä

“Zinovjev’s melodic language is emotionally contagious. Wiegenlied is a work that creates large sound images, in which the orchestral nuances are skilfully utilized.”
Sonja Saarikoski / Helsingin Sanomat, 23.12.2021 / Helsinki Philharmonic & Klaus Mäkelä

Reviews of Un Grande Sospiro (2018)

"Un Grande Sospiro goes further than Munch’s painting, as the music gradually leads us out of the manic state we found ourselves in, to a new place where – as a fitting Kafka quote on the last pages of the score says – the spirit is different. Zinovjev’s outstanding sense of dramaturgy makes me wonder if he should embark on the world of opera sometime in the future?"
Martin Malmgren / Hufvudstadsbladet, 26.10.2019 / Tapiola Sinfonietta & Klaus Mäkelä

Reviews of “Die Welt – ein Tor” (2017)

“Zinovjev’s music is characterized by an intensity that is unusually strong, here there is also a developed melodic dimension that is almost as rare among colleagues. As for the pitches, Zinoviev in no way shuns the tonality, rather it is as if he was approaching it again. It is crowded with triads, which are often beautifully expanded and as far as the harmonious construction is concerned, you often hear deep undercurrents. In terms of form, Zinovjev’s compositions sometimes seem like amoebas – very flexible and to some extent indefinite.”
Wilhelm Kvist / Hufvudstadsbladet, 4.2.2018 / Sirja Nironen, Sibelius Academy SO & Atso Almila
In the space it creates, the questions it poses do not remain one-dimensional, but move from cramped to dreamy melancholy.
Sonja Saarikoski / Helsingin Sanomat 20.2.2021 / Sirja Nironen, Finnish RSO & Sakari Oramo

Reviews of Batteria (2016)

"The Finnish composer Sauli Zinovjev’s “Batteria,” conveyed a Shostakovichian mood of alternately furious and stunned emotional burden."
Zachary Woolfe/ The New York Times 5.4.2024 / Chicago Symphony Orchestra & Klaus Mäkelä
"The concert began with the U.S. premiere of "Batteria," an 11-minute work for large orchestra from 2016 by the Finnish composer Sauli Zinovjev, a friend of the conductor. With an opening enriched by tubular bells, timpani and four horns, the piece—brisk, exciting and unpredictable—proved a fitting way to mark Mr. Mäkelä's new role."
David Mermelstein / The Wall Street Journal 5.4.2024 / Chicago Symphony Orchestra & Klaus Mäkelä

"Mäkelä has conducted Zinovjev’s music for most of his professional career, piloting the fellow Finn’s “Un Grande Sospiro” in 2019 and “Wiegenlied” in 2020. Though he didn’t premiere “Batteria,” Mäkelä has made the tolling, gradually quickening parade of orchestral color part of his repertoire.

The Mäkelä-CSO unit played the 10-minute opener with palpable zeal. That’s not always the case when this orchestra is faced with an unfamiliar score, but it helps that Zinovjev’s piece is engaging and well-wrought. Esa-Pekka Salonen acolytes will find happy resonances in Zinovjev’s treatment of the orchestra, especially its modal woodwind chirrups and industrious moto perpetuo strings."

Hannah Edgar / Chicago Tribune 5.4.2024 / Chicago Symphony Orchestra & Klaus Mäkelä

"As a starter there was a sultry work by the young Finnish composer Sauli Zinoviev, Batteria: a lived-in atmosphere piece, with a dark, stately step and chirping chimes, which briefly turned out to be an Iberian dance halfway through."
Joep Stapel / Nrc 15.12.2022 / Royal Concertgebouworkest & Klaus Mäkelä
"First on the program was Batteria (2016) by his compatriot Sauli Zinovjev. Mäkelä conducted the full work with great verve and passion. Melancholic violas alternated with blocks of brass, threatening roar culminated in an almost standstill, from which a little later large waves of sound rolled from one side of the orchestra to the other. And all of a sudden, as if the last sentence had not yet been spoken, Mäkelä ended Batteria brilliantly in the middle of the brilliant swing."
Michael Klier / Bachtrack 15.12.2022 / Royal Concertgebouworkest & Klaus Mäkelä
"It began with "Batteria", a piece by Finnish composer Sauli Zinovjev, born in 1988, bursting with vitality. Mäkelä and the Philharmonic offered it as a percussively flashing, elastically thundering, then again smoothly melancholic virtuoso piece for large orchestra. The composer present, Mäkelä and the musicians were showered with bravi."
Harald Eggebrecht / Süddeutsche Zeitung 16.6.2022 / Munich Philharmoniker & Klaus Mäkelä
"Sauli Zinovjev, born in 1988, was a guitarist in a rock band. A video clip by the Hungarian pianist György Cziffra opened up his perspective on classical music making, he studied piano and composition, eventually also with Wolfgang Rihm in Karlsruhe. His orchestral piece Batteria, written in 2016, mixes several associations at once: intensively pattering (called “Batteria” in Italian) percussion salvos, order of an artillery unit, compactly stored energy. Timpani, violas and cellos initially provided the meter with insistent quarter notes, images of a gently swinging grandfather clock pendulum or raindrops on a metal roof flashed. Again and again densely staggered sound surfaces of the strings or of motorically drilling trombone power pushed in between, virtuoso modulated while stopping. A permanently pulsating flow of energy throughout the entire work: relaxation in tonal chords as well as inexorable, almost frightening episodes and progressions up to the final coda, realized with virtuosity by the Philharmoniker."
Michael Vieth / Bachtrack 17.6.2022 / Munich Philharmoniker & Klaus Mäkelä 
“Batteria is a bravely personally drawn calling card that may lead far.”
Matti Sauramo / Demokraatti, 3.2.2017 / Finnish RSO & Andre de Ridder
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