Full Throttle

Guest conductor/motorcycle enthusiast revs up orchestra.

Osmo Vänskä spends most of his time in Minneapolis, where he's the music director of the Minnesota Orchestra. Once in a while, he heads back to Finland, where he was born and still occasionally records. He's conducted orchestras all over the world — from Berlin to London to Cleveland, to which he returns tonight for a three-concert engagement with the Cleveland Orchestra. He knows audiences. "In Japan, people listen very carefully, they don't make any noise," he says. "In America, that's not the case. But not in Cleveland. People are used to concentrating on high-quality music."

This weekend's program includes Rachmaninoff's Symphony No. 3, a piece Vänskä calls "quite romantic." "It's very emotional," he says. "People who aren't used to coming to concerts like Rachmaninoff, because he's so much about human beings' emotions." And dispelling classical-music myths that most performers and directors are buttoned-down stiffs, Vänskä likes to unwind by hitting the road on a motorcycle. Just like the badasses in Mötley Crüe! Vänskä owns two bikes — one in Minnesota and one in Helsinki. "When I put my helmet on," he says, "it's like therapy."
Feb. 23-25, 8 p.m.