... It was good to hear something very different - the Singapore premiere of Jaakko Kuusisto's Violin Concerto, which he dedicated to his musical contemporary Vähälä. Unusually, the concerto begins with an extended cadenza, which has the soloist exploring the extremes of her instrument, double-stops and dissonant intervals. Vähälä is a supremely musical performer, with outstanding technique, which never overshadowed the lyricism of her playing. Vähälä's playing was top rate throughout the concerto, even if the unfamiliarity of the work might have made it less evident for listeners. Her tone, expressiveness and fluency were second to none.
- The Straits Times
Above all, one is struck by how expressive the solo part is [Aho's Violin Concerto No.2], just like in the old school violin concertos (think for example Prokofiev). It has expansive melodies that come with mostly singing lines. The concerto is throughout dominated by Elina Vähälä with her captivating interpretation, and only in a few occasions the orchestra gets a word in edgeways.
Elina Vähälä gave a fabulous performance, her superb technique serving deeply committed musicianship and she was accompanied in virtuoso fashion [Detroit Symphony]. If you like Korngold’s and Menotti’s Violin Concertos, you’ll like Jaakko Kuusisto’s, which flies high yet also takes us into the woods.
- Classical Source
Finnish violinist Elina Vähälä gave a ravishing account of Pēteris Vasks’ Distant Light […] Each of the three cadenzas tests the soloist’s ability with increasing difficulty. Vähälä dispatched all three with great bravura […] It was clear what a sensitive musician Vähälä is, listening to and matching her tone to the sepulchral tones of the lower strings in the cantabile section, or imbuing her stratospheric octaves with passionate intensity.
[...] The internationally renowned soloist Elina Vähälä won Krefeld over with her performance. She already recorded the work [Corigliano: Violin Concerto] on CD in 2013. The complex piece demands the technical prowess and emotional commitment from the soloist: both of these demands the soloist met with ease […]. The centerpiece of the work is the first movement, the Chaconne, which is already half of the 35-minute work. The dialogue between the soloist and the orchestra is extremely challenging. The listener follows a path journey through an ever-changing sound world: the subtle interaction between the soloist and the orchestra was convincing throughout the whole piece continuing to inspire the audience long after the final note…
- Westdeutsche Zeitung
Soloist Elina Vahala was terrific, roaring through the blazing Paganini like passages, leaning into the hyperromantic melodies and glissandos, projecting Bachlike doublestops to the back of the hall with a fulsome sound.
- Detroit Free Press
The fluent, stylish performance by the gifted Finnish violinist Elina Vahala, in her Chicago debut, revealed a musician whose brilliant technique is matched by abundant spirit, sensitivity and imagination.
- Chicago Tribune
Her control of phrasing, and especially the ends of phrases provided evidence of a thoughtful musician who has all the technical accomplishment and confidence she needs to project her thoughts. Her intonation is sure and her tone fine, perfectly formed. In her highly musical performance of the Brahms’s D minor sonata her delicacy of sound and the rhythm in the third movement was marvelous, as was the drive in the finale. She breathed each movement, and even the whole sonata, as one.
- New York Times
Impeccable accuracy, a sound that sang, radiant and luminous; this young woman shows herself to be a soloist of the highest rank whose ease and presence place her among the rising glories of the violin.
- Le Monde
Vähälä was clearly the evening's star and the Schnittke her showpiece. Both violinist and pianist threw themselves into the sonata...Vähälä offering a vividly athletic performance that managed to appear untamed but was, in fact, perfectly in control.
- The LA Times
Vähälä, a Grace Kelly look-alike who cut an exceedingly glamorous figure on the stage, took over as soloist for two Beethoven Romances for Violin and Orchestra. She is a patrician, confident player with a big, smooth tone that poured out the long-lined melodies with true beauty.
- The Seattle Times
Elina Vähälä's playing was blinding, answering all the demands of the music in power, virtuosity and soft melancholy. A pure and poetic feeling in the violin tone and fiery involvement in the interpretation. Yes, it was absolutely brilliant...
- Svenska Dagbladet, Stockholm
Vähälä's viscerally affecting approach united musical depth and technical finesse. Britten's solo lines use percussive attacks as much as drawn-out phrases, and hers were piercing.... spellbinding.
- The Oregonian
Music from France often gets labeled as vaporous, perfumed abstraction. But as violinist Elina Vähälä played Fauré and Debussy at the National Gallery of Art on Sunday evening, the prevailing image wasn't mist -- it was fire. Throughout the program, Vähälä displayed a fondness and talent for hard, fast passages and was impressive not just for her technical proficiency but also for her ability to make them musically and emotionally potent. in Debussy's Sonata for Violin and Piano in G Minor, she teased out playful, mischievous and sensual lines, and in Fauré's Sonata for Violin and Piano No. 1 in A, she was all ardent, jealous romance. The concert closed with Stravinsky's "Suite Italienne", quick crowd-pleasing dances from his neoclassical ballet "Pulcinella", which earned both performers their standing ovation.
- The Washington Post
Elina Vähälä is like the Stradivari-violin she plays on, graceful in structure, luminous and giving in sound. Vähälä takes up Johannes Brahms' violin concerto with such a grip, that the leader is obvious. The Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by John Storgards is incorrigibly left in the background, to accompany. Until the adagio starts. The opening of the winds sounds like the most wonderful serenade. The beautiful Elina answers to the invitation and takes us again as marionettes until the last beats of the sparkling finale. Elina Vähälä twists the listener around her little finger, and it doesn't even feel bad to be captured like that.
- Helsingin Sanomat
Already the powerful first measures of the Brahms D major concerto and the firm, dramatic grip of the soloist made the listener to expect some totally new creative interpretation of the familiar concerto, and one was not let down. Elina Vähälä conjured up of her Stradivari-violin the most beautiful singing line, whispering pianissimos and full-bodied forte, probably the way that would have satisfied Brahms as well. I was expecting with certain interest the interpretation of the third movement, the final. "FIRE AND FLASH"! Elina Vähälä's dramatic and brilliant insight sounded pure, technically flawless without comparison. We got to hear well analyzed and lively Brahms. It felt that the beautiful-toned Stradivari transformed to a part of a musical landscape.
- Ostrobotnian, Vasa, Finland
Elina Vähälä played Corigliano's concerto in Turku in brilliantly glorious manner, in ecstasy of striking mastery, that was regulated by bright, polished control.
- Helsingin Sanomat, Finland
Elina Vähälä's performance as the soloist of the concerto was astonishing and intense. Virtuosic passages bubbled unbelievably easily, and she didn't leave one note without meaning and something to say.
- Turun Sanomat, Finland
She came through all the most difficult technical obstacles effortlessly, and the well–balanced playfulness of this virtuoso made all the violinists sitting in the audience sigh of admiration.
- Turun Sanomat, Finland
Her deeply musical interpretation amazed with its naturality, poetry and polished sensuality. The violin sounded extraordinary beautiful, full and colourful.
- Etelä–Suomen Sanomat, Finland