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Theatre Music - Released August 10, 2018 | PentaTone

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason - 3F de Télérama - Gramophone Editor's Choice
Composed by Stravinsky in 1933 in the wake of the French oratorio fashion whose figureheads are Milhaud (Les Choéphores) and Honegger (Le Roi David, Jeanne d’Arc au bûcher), and his own Oedipus Rex, Perséphone sanctifies the French period of the Russian composer, after he left Switzerland and before he settled definitely in the United States. Ordered by Ida Rubinstein, to whom music history already owed Debussy’s Martyre de Saint-Sébastien and Ravel’s Boléro, this melodrama, profane in its story and hybrid regarding its musical form, glorifies spring -without it being a new “Consecration” in its language) on a text by André Gide, thus prolonging the emotion created by the novel Si le grain ne meurt. The three acts of the work (Perséphone enlevée, Perséphone aux enfers, Perséphone renaissante) are close to human nature and psyche with an empathy reinforced by Stravinsky’s music. Conceived for a tenor (Eumolpe), a narrator, a mixed chorus, a chidren’s chorus and an orchestra, this work, so original in the production of its author, has however never found its audience. People long blamed Stravinsky for wringing the neck of the prosody of Gide’s text without understanding that it was however one of its more sensitive works, possessed with a melodic verve, a clear lyricism and a warmth for which he wasn’t known for. Under Esa-Pekka Salonen’s inspired and aerial baton, Perséphone finds here a second youth which might finally allow it to impose itself to a new generation of music lovers. This “strange profane mass” (as described by Marcel Marnat) is probably one of the most touching works of a composer that is always looking for new springs. © François Hudry/Qobuz

Classical - Released December 14, 2018 | Sony Classical


Classical - Released February 1, 2013 | Sony Classical


Classical - Released November 30, 2012 | Sony Classical

No one would guess from his baby face that Esa-Pekka Salonen is a hard-edged, tough-guy modernist who got his start conducting works by Magnus Lindberg, the enfant terrible of Finnish music. But it is true and his recording career is proof. Nowhere in his discography is there a note of Beethoven or Brahms. Even in so conservative a company as Sony, Salonen has become the resident modernist with discs dedicated to Bartók, Debussy, and Mahler (that's Sony's modernism). He has even amassed an amazing series of Stravinsky recordings since his Sony debut in 1988. Salonen started with Stravinsky's first masterpiece, The Firebird. Rather than use Stravinsky's modest revision of the score, Salonen went back to the original 1910 version with its gargantuan orchestra of quadruple woodwinds, huge brass section plus a seven-piece brass band on-stage, an enormous percussion section that included bells, xylophone, celesta, and piano, plus three harps and 64 strings. Not that all this late-Romantic armament blunts the blade of Salonen's modernism. It only gives him more ammunition to aim at the work's Russian fairy tale heart. Stravinsky later commented on The Firebird that "belongs to the style of its time." This is true as far as it goes. The use of diatonic folk-like melodies for humans and chromaticism for the supernatural does come out of Rimsky-Korsakov's late operas. But those are merely the work's point of origin. Under the right hands -- and Salonen's are the right hands -- numbers like "Fairy Carillon" and especially "Infernal Dance" become threats to musical complacency. Even such pretty little sound toys as the "Round Dances" and the "Lullaby" aren't exercises in late-Russian emotionality; in their own quiet way, they subvert the conventions of Romanticism through Stravinsky's nascent aesthetic of ironic stylization to distance the creator and, thus, the audience, from the creation. © TiVo

Classical - Released May 4, 2018 | Sony Classical


Classical - Released May 4, 2018 | Sony Classical


Classical - Released August 2, 2011 | BIS

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or
Anders Hillborg, born in 1954, is among the most important Swedish composers of his generation, and this BIS album of four of his orchestral works allows listeners to sample his poised confidence in handling large structures and his exquisite sense of orchestral color. King Tide is at once the most modest and unassuming and is the most striking work in the collection. There's something primal and organic in the depiction of the small fluctuations that occur within the build-up of a single monumental ocean wave. The dignified, unhurried unfurling of the sounds, not unlike that of John Adams' rarely performed Common Tones in Simple Time, respects the listener's ability to pay attention to and hear the beauty in the small or subtle incremental changes in the music. Eleven Gates, written in 1998, is probably the most ambitious and varied work on the program, but is, in a way, also the most conventional. The nearly 20-minute piece in 11 brief movements is kaleidoscopic in its often whimsical juxtaposition of imaginative contrasting gestures, textures, and colors. It would make a good introduction to new music for listeners who are nervous about approaching new works; each of its movements makes a distinctive, likeable statement, and then yields to its successor before having worn out its welcome. The surreal titles of each movement also give audiences a reference point for framing the expressive intent of the music, but Hillborg's intent is clear enough that the titles aren't really necessary, although they are fun. Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra provides virtuoso performances; even though Hillborg's music is easy on the ears, it makes extreme technical demands on its players and they handle it with assurance and panache. Sakari Oramo, the orchestra's principal conductor, and Alan Gilbert each lead one work, and Esa-Pekka Salonen leads two. The sound of the hybrid SACD is clean, warm, and nicely detailed, with a good sense of presence. © TiVo

Classical - Released January 18, 2013 | Sony Classical

This complete set of Witold Lutoslawski's symphonies is a mixture of old and new. The second, third, and fourth symphonies are reissues of recordings made in the 1980s and 1990s during Esa-Pekka Salonen's tenure with the Los Angeles Philharmonic; all were acclaimed readings, and the 1985 version of the sizzlingly orchestrated Symphony No. 3, by now Lutoslawski's most commonly programmed and recorded work, has held up well against newer recordings. What's new is the Symphony No. 1, recorded in the new Walt Disney Hall to round out the set in commemoration of the composer's 100th birthday. (The entire recording of the symphony is new, although the bizarre numbering of the tracks makes this difficult to figure out.) This work is not often played. Lutoslawski wrote it in occupied Warsaw and managed to physically carry the score out of the city during the 1944 Warsaw Uprising and hide with it in an attic for eight months. Later he expressed a negative attitude toward the piece, but it's well worth hearing. It might be described as overgrown neo-classicism, with short sonata-form movements and strong traces of Prokofiev and Albert Roussel, but with harmonic density, Lutoslawski's complex orchestration, and his characteristic bristly counterpoint breaking out everywhere. Salonen still ranks as Lutoslawski's foremost champion, and these four symphonies, evenly distributed over 50 years of the composer's career, form an arresting portrait of the figure in whose work modernism and the traditional symphonic medium seem most closely reconciled. If there's a complaint here, it's that the remastering, although quite good, cannot compensate for the sonic differences between Walt Disney Hall and the earlier recordings in a studio and in the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. The set makes you want to hear all four symphonies conducted by Salonen in the new hall, which seems tailor-made for Lutoslawski. © TiVo

Classical - Released May 30, 2014 | Sony Classical


Classical - Released September 17, 2001 | Sony Classical


Symphonic Music - Released April 8, 2016 | New York Philharmonic


Classical - Released February 22, 1991 | Sony Classical


Classical - Released May 4, 2018 | Sony Classical


Classical - Released April 28, 2017 | Sony Classical


Classical - Released August 10, 2000 | Sony Classical


Classical - Released June 5, 2009 | Sony Classical


Classical - Released May 4, 2018 | Sony Classical