Salonen and Shostakovich, with Sheku, Morales, and Latry

Salonen and Shostakovich, with Sheku, Morales, and Latry
Ricardo Morales, Olivier Latry, Sheku Kanneh-Mason, Esa-Pekka Salonen
© Alex Kruchoski, Deyan Parouchev, Ollie Ali, Minna Hatinen

Across his upcoming springtime American engagements, composer and conductor Esa-Pekka Salonen has programmed Wise Music repertoire staples alongside two of his own recent pieces for orchestra and soloist. 

From May 1-4, Salonen leads the New York Philharmonic in the Cello Concerto No. 1 by Dmitri Shostakovich, featuring rising star Sheku Kanneh-Mason as soloist. Both musicians have performed the work on many occasions, but this New York Philharmonic debut of Kanneh-Mason's is also his first time working with Salonen. The two reteam June 13-15 for more performances of this seminal concerto with the San Francisco Symphony. Previous performances of the work featuring each artist can be viewed below.

Two recent Salonen works for soloist and orchestra are the centerpieces of two different programs he then conducts with the Philadelphia Orchestra. May 9-11 features the 2021 clarinet concerto Kínēma, which consists of five “scenes” with string orchestra accompaniment; Philadelphia Principal Clarinet Ricardo Morales serves as soloist. The music elaborates on material that Salonen composed for a romantic drama film set on the Finnish coast. Here, the music is reconceived as “different spaces where one can exist for a few minutes...there is no traditional development, and most of the music is quite lyrical.” Light on its feet and cleverly constructed, Kínēma feels like the beginning of a new period for Salonen the composer, marked by spaciousness, economy, and warmth. 

Watch Esa-Pekka Salonen discuss Kínēma with the NDR.

This new style of writing continued in 2022 with Sinfonia Concertante, a three-movement work for organ and orchestra, to be performed with soloist Olivier Latry May 16-18. 

In grappling with the baroque origins of the organ concerto, Salonen contemplated the interesting paradox of writing such a piece today. “Organ is the one instrument that can do practically everything an orchestra can.” His challenges were to therefore avoid “redundancy,” and also to account for the fact that every organ is a unique instrument. Driven by the practical need for more organ and orchestra repertoire – so many halls have beautiful instruments that sit in silence for most of the season – Salonen produced a score that invokes the sounds of Perotín, Beethoven, and modern stadium organs at NHL games. It creates an imaginary landscape, but is informed by lived experience of ecstasy, loss, and quietude.  

Each program will feature other Finnish music. Kínēma is to be followed by the masterful Symphony No. 5 by Jean Sibelius. According to Salonen, Sibelius “represents something totally unique in the music of the last century…his music is not manufactured, it is grown. He saw himself more like a gardener and less like a mechanic.”

Sinfonia Concertante is to be preceded by Lumière et Pesanteur by Kaija Saariaho, one of Salonen’s oldest friends and collaborators.  "Lumière et Pesanteur is a gift for Esa-Pekka Salonen,” wrote Saariaho in 2009, “inspired by his performance of my La Passion de Simone  in Los Angeles. This piece is an arrangement based on the eight station of the Passion, which I know that he especially likes."

For more information, please contact your local Wise Music Promotion Team. See Contact Us.

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