“Basically, I see myself as a composer,” says Esa-Pekka Salonen, “with a bit of conducting on the side to make a living.” A sentence full of charming understatement, from the mouth of one of the most eminent orchestral conductors of our time. After all, Salonen, currently music director of the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra, is a welcome guest of the world’s leading symphony orchestras. Conducting the Berliner Philharmoniker, he will present his new Concerto for Organ and Orchestra as Composer in Residence for the 2022/23 season – together with the famous French organ virtuoso Olivier Latry, who has been one of three titular organists at the great organ of Notre-Dame de Paris for more than three decades.
In addition to the splendour of the “queen of instruments”, Esa-Pekka Salonen also devotes himself to the work of the subtle magician of tone colour Maurice Ravel, who with Ma Mère l’Oye wanted to revive a “poetry of childhood” that had been lost to adults. The brilliantly orchestrated music with its sweeping harp glissandi, mysterious celesta sounds and stylised bird calls transports us to distant fabulous worlds – from Sleeping Beauty to Beauty and the Beast. In contrast, Ravel composed his suite Le Tombeau de Couperin as a homage to “the entire French music of the 18th century”: an extremely cleverly staged adaptation of old court and social dances, whose stylistic imitation is skilfully broken by modern harmonies.