VC DESERT ISLAND DOWNLOADS | Conductor Osmo Vänskä - '5 Recordings I Can't Live Without'

Osmo Vänskä

The Violin Channel recently caught up with esteemed Finnish conductor and clarinetist, Minnesota Orchestra Music Director, Maestro Osmo Vänskä - for a fun game of VC Desert Island Downloads. 

We sat him down to pick his brain on which 5 CD recordings he would take with him to a deserted island - and how the tracks have helped shape him as a musician.


1. Brahms' Symphony No. 2, performed by Leonard Bernstein and the New York Philharmonic

"When I was a young boy, my parents bought our first LP player. At the time I was learning to play the clarinet, and after hearing this recording, my new dream was to become a conductor. I would "conduct" along with the recording daily, and the orchestra played well for me every time!"

Brahms: Symphonies Nos. 2 & 3 |CD|

Johannes Brahms

Leonard Bernstein & New York Philharmonic

Release Date: July 27, 1999

Sony Classical


2. Brahms' Clarinet Quintet, performed by Karl Leister and the Amadeus Quartet

"I studied for a short time with Karl Leister in Germany when I was in my 20s, and he influenced my clarinet playing as well as my general musicianship in a very important way. I have always had his amazing sound in my ear, and I love this recording of one of my all-time favorite pieces of music."

Mozart & Brahms: Clarinet Quintets |CD|

Karl Leister & Gervase de Peyer

Amadeus Quartet

Release Date: September 1, 2004

Deutsche Grammophon


3. Sibelius' Symphonies & Tone Poems, performed by Paavo Berglund & Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra

"Paavo Berglund was a very important conductor for me. His rehearsals were great lessons about how to build up the orchestra and how to make it a better and better ensemble. Paavo didn’t compromise! I was co-principal clarinet at Helsinki Philharmonic when he was chief conductor. I learned a lot from him. His recordings of Sibelius are still the very best ones."

Sibelius: Symphonies, Finlandia, The Oceanides, Tapiola, Kullervo |5 CD|

Jean Sibelius

Paavo Berglund & Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra

Release Date: August 18, 2017

Warner Classics


4. Mix-tape of female jazz vocalists, including Sarah Vaughan, Ella Fitzgerald, Nina Simone, Billie Holiday and others

"For my fourth selection, I would make a mix-tape (or a playlist if I could have my iPhone). When I am at home relaxing there is usually jazz playing in the house, and one of my favorite playlists is a mix of many female jazz vocalists. It includes Sarah Vaughan, Ella Fitzgerald, Nina Simone, Billie Holiday and many others. They all had incredible voices, and I think it is so important for classical musicians to listen to other types of music."

The Definitive Collection |BOX SET|

Sarah Vaughan

Release Date: November 20, 2012

Not Now

The Best of Ella Fitzgerald |3 CD|

Ella Fitzgerald

Release Date: November 17, 2017

AAO Music

The Essential Nina Simone |2 CD|

Nina Simone

Release Date: March 15, 2011

Sony Legacy

The Best of Billie Holiday |CD|

20th Century Masters - The Millennium Collection

Billie Holiday

Release Date: July 30, 2002

Hip-O Records


5. Any Benny Goodman album 

"As you can tell, I am a big fan of the clarinet in general! I love listening to Benny Goodman, and he was an exceptional artist who played both classical and jazz music."

Carnegie Hall Jazz Concert |2 CD|

Benny Goodman, Clarinet

Release Date: November 2, 1999

Sony Legacy