Monday, December 10, 2012

Esa-Pekka Salonen: Out of Nowhere

"Salonen is a fiercely committed and very fine, though not terribly prolific, composer. A new CD contains two of his recent large-scale works, the orchestra piece Nyx and a violin concerto that won the prestigious Grawemeyer Award last year. Both display the high-speed bravura writing you might expect from an orchestra pilot who understands precisely how close to the edge he can take a fast-moving corps of musicians before it falls apart. As a conductor, he’s known as a specialist in acerbic, rhythmically complex twentieth-century music, and in his own works, the orchestra swivels, surges, and throws off sparks. But Salonen confesses he’s been studying the plush scores of Richard Strauss for clues on how to organize 100-plus players, all sawing, blowing, and pounding away in complex counterpoint, and at the same time keep the texture light and clear. He is a master of the long and lovely meditation. In the final movement of the concerto, the solo violin tumbles slowly through a soft orchestral haze to land on a stratospheric pianissimo. The score doesn’t conclude so much as gracefully vanish over the horizon" (Justin Davidson, "Classical Music: Beating Time," New York, 11/19/12).

View catalog record here!


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