“Nemo enim fere saltat sobrius, nisi forte insanit”: No one dances sober, unless he is insane! Composer in Residence Esa-Pekka Salonen named his 2020 fantasy on Pérotin’s “Sederunt principes”, one of the first four-part compositions in music history, after this quotation from Cicero’s speech for Lucius Murena. Inspired by Pérotin’s extravagant polyphonic entanglements, he created Saltat Sobrius, a delightful ten-minute dance miniature in which the instruments seem to join hands as in a surreal ballroom scene. The music is made for a Late Night concert: a combination of virtuosity, sheer ecstasy and good cheer.
The same can be said about the ensemble piece Fog, which was created for the 90th birthday of celebrity architect Frank Gehry. He designed the spectacular concert hall in Los Angeles, where Salonen conducted regularly as the head of the symphony orchestra there for many years. Salonen described Fog as a fantasia on Bach’s Prelude from the E major Partita BWV 1006, whose harmonic and melodic structure is almost omnipresent, “sometimes clearly identifiable, sometimes veiled or completely hidden”. This work, the composer continues, “was the first piece of music Frank and I heard in the Walt Disney Concert Hall when it was still under construction. Much of the harmony is based on Frank’s name: F A G E H (in English, of course, B).”