Esa-Pekka Salonen’s compositional work continues its upward trajectory with his new (2009) Violin Concerto (subtitled “Out of Nowhere”). It’s his finest piece to date, and one of the most compelling orchestral works of the still young 21st century. Transcending the boundaries of both tonality and atonality, Salonen’s music is distinctly modern—but not modernist, as he unapologetically uses tonal centers as it suits him. This gives his music a fresh, vibrant quality even as it provides the listener with guideposts along the way (an aspect decried as “middle of the road” by doctrinaire critics).
The first movement, “Mirage”, begins with the solo violin flitting around like some waywardRead more butterfly, aided softly by celesta, vibraphone, and harp. The orchestra suddenly erupts in dramatic chords underpinned by swelling subterranean bass while woodwinds ascend into the stratosphere. This segues into the pensive second movement, “Pulse 1?, followed by the scintillating and swinging “Pulse II”, where Salonen deploys a rock n’ roll drum set to dramatic effect. The final movement, “Adieu”, unusually ends the concerto in a slow, somber vein with angry full-orchestra protestations before the music gradually disintegrates.
Salonen composed the concerto for Leila Josefowicz, who astounds in her tour-de-force performance of the formidable solo part, with its dizzying runs and leaps, along with triple and quadruple stops, all at often breathtaking speed. (Nearly as impressive is her ability to memorize all of this, as a concert video makes clear she plays without a score). The Finnish Radio Symphony powerfully performs the accompaniment under Salonen’s authoritative leadership.
The 2010 tone poem Nyx is named for the Greek goddess of night. Sibelius inhabits the work’s shadowy atmosphere (Salonen freely admits the great Finnish composer’s influence), with horns baying Lemminkäinen-like into the wilderness in the opening; a subsequent violent outburst that recedes into an eerie stillness on hushed strings calls to mind a similar passage in Tapiola. Yet, this is unmistakably music by Salonen, as the composer’s now-trademark frenetic energy and bracing orchestral effects make clear.
Again the composer leads the work as only he could; the Finnish Radio Symphony plays with such alacrity and seeming spontaneity it’s almost as if it were an extension of Salonen’s nervous system. Deutsche Grammophon’s engineering relays the full impact of the performance. A top-priority release, enthusiastically recommended.
Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra
Average Customer Review: ( 1 Customer Review )
I Don't KNow What has come Out Of Nowhere but it-October 26, 2013By Daniel McGarigle (El Segundo, CA)See All My Reviews"I Don't Know WHAT Has Come Out Of Nowhere but it-s got a good timpani part. This music does not tell me WHAT-WHO-HOW has come -Out Of Nowhere- and maybe that's the point, that we might not recognize something that comes out of nowhere - I mean where IS nowhere ? So what would something BE that comes from there, from nowhere, from where ? Those are, for me, some pretty juicy and fun questions. And this is certainly juicy music that strikes me as coming from some unknown place somewhere-nowhere-anywhere-anytime-whats-in-the-universe-anywhere-it-can-get-confusing-can't-it-nowhere-I-mean??? Anyway, I did play timpani for 4 years when I was young until I found out I didn't have world-class talent so then I played jazz on a drum set and then I didn't know where I was coming from either. But Mr. Salonen has written a beautiful part that any timpanist would love to bring to life ! And also more importantly Mr. Salonen and his music do get the rest of the instruments in the orchestra to evoke profound confusion profoundly quite well. I hadn't been up for that sort of thing and now I have been. Oh experience ! Now that's art, huh ?"Report Abuse