Esa-Pekka Salonen Set To Conduct The New York Philharmonic In Works By Bartok, Ravel and More
Esa-Pekka Salonen will conduct the New York Philharmonic in Bartók's Music for Strings, Percussion, and Celesta; Ravel's Piano Concerto in G major, with David Fray as soloist in his Philharmonic debut; and Debussy's La Mer, Thursday, December 3, 2009, at 7:30 p.m., Friday, December 4, at 11:00 a.m., Saturday, December 5, at 8:00 p.m., and Tuesday, December 8, at 7:30 p.m.
Arbie Orenstein, author and professor of music at the Aaron Copland School of Music at Queens College, will introduce the program one hour before each performance. Tickets are $5 in addition to the concert ticket. Attendance is limited to 90 people. Information: nyphil.org or (212) 875-5656
New York Philharmonic Podcast
Mark Travis, a producer for the WFMT Radio Network since 1999 and the producer of the 52-week-per-year nationally syndicated radio series, The New York Philharmonic This Week, will host this podcast. These award-winning previews of upcoming programs - through musical selections as well as interviews with guest artists, conductors, and Orchestra musicians - are available at nyphil.org/podcast or from iTunes.
National Radio Broadcast
This concert will be broadcast the week of December 14, 2009,* on The New York Philharmonic This Week, a radio concert series syndicated nationally to more than 295 stations by the WFMT Radio Network. The 52-week series, hosted by WFMT's Emmy Award-winning actor Alec Baldwin, is generously underwritten by The Kaplen Foundation, the Audrey Love Charitable Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Philharmonic's corporate partner, MetLife Foundation. The broadcast will be available on the Philharmonic's Website, nyphil.org. The program is broadcast locally in the New York metropolitan area on 105.9 FM WQXR on Thursdays at 9:00 p.m.
*Check local listings for broadcast and program information.
Born in Helsinki, conductor and composer Esa-Pekka Salonen studied at the Sibelius Academy, and made his conducting debut with the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra in 1979. He was chief conductor of the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra for 10 years (1985-95) and director of the Helsinki Festival in 1995 and 1996. From 1992 until 2009 Mr. Salonen was music director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, and was named its conductor laureate in April 2009. During that time he conducted the Los Angeles Philharmonic's residencies at the Salzburg Festival, Köln Philharmonie, and at the Théâtre du Châtelet, Paris, as well as numerous European tours and guest performances in Japan.
Since September 2008 Mr. Salonen has been principal conductor and artistic advisor of the Philharmonia Orchestra. In his first season he devised and led City of Dreams, a nine-month exploration of the music and culture of Vienna between 1900 and 1935. The project has travelled to 18 cities across Europe, culminating with semi-staged performances of Berg's Wozzeck in October 2009.
Mr. Salonen has given countless premieres of new works. He has led critically acclaimed festivals of music by Berlioz, Ligeti, Schoenberg, Shostakovich, Stravinsky, and Magnus Lindberg. In April 2006 he returned to Paris Opéra Bastille to conduct the premiere of Kaija Saariaho's opera, Adriana Mater, having previously conducted the Finnish premiere of her first opera, L'Amour de loin, in 2004. In August 2007 he conducted the first Finnish performance of Saariaho's La Passion de Simone in a production by Peter Sellars at the Helsinki Festival before taking the production to the Baltic Sea Festival in Stockholm, a festival he co-initiated in 2003.
Esa-Pekka Salonen's forthcoming releases on the Philharmonia's Signum label include Schoenberg's Gurrelieder, Mahler's Symphonies Nos. 6 and 9, and Berlioz's Symphonie fantastique. In November 2008 Deutsche Grammophon released a CD with Mr. Salonen's Piano Concerto and his works Helix and Dichotomie. His first recording with the Los Angeles Philharmonic for Deutsche Grammophon (Stravinsky's The Rite of Spring) was released in October 2006 and nominated for a Grammy in December 2007. Mr. Salonen has also recorded extensively for Sony Classical, with repertoire ranging from Mahler and Revueltas to Magnus Lindberg and his own works. He last conducted the New York Philharmonic in February 2007 for the world premiere of his Piano Concerto, a co-commission by the Philharmonic, with Yefim Bronfman as soloist.
French pianist David Fray has collaborated with distinguished conductors such as Riccardo Muti, Christoph Eschenbach, and Kurt Masur, among many others. An active recitalist, he has appeared frequently in Europe, the U.S., and Asia in concert halls that include the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées, Théâtre du Châtelet, Auditorium du Louvre, and Cité de la Musique in Paris; Victoria Hall in Geneva; Palau de la Musica in Barcelona; Palace of Arts in Montréal; Amsterdam's Royal Concertgebouw; Alti Hall in Kyoto; Philharmonie in Essen; Palais des Beaux-Arts in Brussels; and the Musikverein in Vienna.
During the summer of 2009, Mr. Fray made his debuts with the Boston Symphony Orchestra at Tanglewood and The Cleveland Orchestra at the Blossom Festival, and will make his San Francisco Symphony debut, under Christoph Eschenbach, in the 2009-10 season. Recent highlights include performances with the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra in Munich and a tour of Italy under Riccardo Muti's direction, concerts with the Orchestre National de France at the Musikverein in Vienna and the Philharmonie Köln, as well as a tour of the United States in April 2008 led by Kurt Masur.
Mr. Fray received the Jury Award for Newcomer of the Year 2008 from BBC Music Magazine for his Bach/Boulez CD, and the German Recording Academy's ECHO Classic 2009 in The category "Instrumentalist of the Year - Piano" for his recording of Bach concertos with the Kammerphilharmonie Bremen. Since 2007 he has been an exclusive Virgin Classics artist.
David Fray began taking piano lessons at the age of four, and studied with Jacques Rouvier at the National Superior Conservatory of Music in Paris, graduating with the highest honours. These performances mark his New York Philharmonic debut.
Belá Bartók's Music for Strings, Percussion, and Celesta was premiered in Basel, Switzerland, in January 1937. In October of the same year it received its U.S. premiere by the New York Philharmonic under the direction of Sir John Barbirolli. A work of exuberant invention and passion, Music for Strings, Percussion, and Celesta is one of Bartók's most frequently played pieces. It explores Baroque concepts of antiphonal spacing, symmetry, and counterpoint, as well as modern timbres and orchestration techniques. The New York Philharmonic most recently performed it in February 2006, conducted by Robert Spano.
Maurice Ravel began composing a piece for piano and orchestra in 1928, planning to perform the new piece, titled Basque Rhapsody, during a concert tour of America. He didn't complete the work until 1931, by which time it had become the formal Concerto for Piano and Orchestra in G major. Ravel intended to write a concerto in the spirit of Mozart and Saint-Saëns, in which the orchestra and the piano engage in a lively dialogue. His early interest in Basque folk dances can still be heard in the work, and the piece also reveals the composer's affinity for American jazz. The concerto has been an elegant showcase for pianists since its premiere in 1932, when Marguerite Long performed the work in Paris with Ravel conducting. The Philharmonic first performed it in December 1933 led by Bruno Walter, with pianist Harold Bauer, and most recently, in April 2009, with Mitsuko Uchida as soloist and Riccardo Muti on the podium.
Claude Debussy's La Mer (The Sea), Three Symphonic Sketches, was begun during the summer of 1902, was completed in March 1905, and was revised by the composer over many years. The sweeping work, comparable in scope to a symphony, is in three movements: De l'aube à midi sur la mer (From Dawn to Noon on the Sea); Jeux de vagues (Play of Waves); and Dialogue du vent et de la mer (Dialogue Between the Wind and the Sea). It was Debussy's seventh major orchestral score, and Parisian critics in 1905 seemed to have had a clear sense that this work was different, although not all of them were pleased by the new muscularity in the composer's style. Today La Mer stands as one of Debussy's greatest masterpieces and is considered one of the first landmarks of 20th-century music. The piece was given its first New York Philharmonic performance in February 1922, conducted by Willem Mengelberg. Its most recent performance was led by Ludovic Morlot in January 2009.