Throughout his entire career as a conductor and composer, Esa-Pekka Salonen has always been a champion of new music and new expressions. In his Cello Concerto, in a whirlwind of notes, he literally pushes the soloist towards the boundary of what is possible. In the 17th century, the violin virtuoso and composer Heinrich Biber was at the cutting edge of music, not least with his Battalia à 10, in which he used very unusual techniques and executions for the time. Beethoven’s creative and rhythmically vibrant Symphony no. 7 positively bubbles over with jubilation and inspiration; what could be a better celebration of the former Chief Conductor of the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra and co-founder of the Baltic Sea Festival. The concert will be livestreamed on Play.
When, at the age of 21, he stepped up onto the podium for the first time, in front of the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra, he considered himself to be a composer who would do a little conducting on the side. Fate chose otherwise, but even though Esa-Pekka Salonen is better known as a conductor, composition is of equal importance to him. He has said that the two sides feed off one another, that his composer’s brain is always engaged. Salonen’s Cello Concerto explores the very meaning of virtuosity, a word associated with lightning-fast nimbleness, advanced rhythms and technical brilliance. But he argues that the quiet, almost motionless moments also require incredible skill; virtuosity is equally about imparting profound meaning to a single note. Salonen has described himself as chronically curious and his concerto has been inspired by a wide variety of sources: elements of chaos theory, meteorology and astronomy are combined with detailed orchestral execution and, in the simple as well the complex movements, virtuoso cello solos.
Another erstwhile trailblazer was Heinrich Biber, an Austrian violinist who, with intrepid curiosity and musical brilliance, wrote some of the most important works in musical history for the instrument. He experimented with retuning the strings of the instrument, polyphonics and very advanced techniques. As early as 1673, in his work Battalia à 10, he used different forms of extended techniques that many today would consider modern, or at least contemporary. As the name implies it is a battle, rendered in music, complete with gunshots, whistling bullets and rhythmic war drums. By preparing the instruments with pieces of paper, playing with the wood side of the bow and plucking hard on the strings, the battlefield materializes before the listening audience. One of the movements takes place in between the fighting when the drunken soldiers sit around, singing a variety of German, Bohemian and Czech folksongs in a cacophony that, if anything, is reminiscent of Charles Ives.
Richard Wagner, frequently associated with mighty and dramatic operas, was an ardent admirer of Beethoven in his teenage years. When, at the age of 14, he heard Beethoven’s exuberant Symphony no. 7 he was allegedly deeply moved, as so many others both before and after, and he later described the symphony as “the Apotheosis of the Dance itself”. On the one hand an uncharacteristic statement, considering the popular image of Wagner as a serious, intellectual and melancholy man, but on the other it is evidence of the music’s irresistible playfulness and joie de vivre. Music writer George Grove wrote about the symphony’s captivating fourth movement that, “the force that reigns throughout this movement is literally prodigious”. The second movement, which in itself has become a popular concert piece and been turned into both folk music and rock versions, was so well received at the première that they performed an encore. Again: what better way to celebrate one of our greatest and most lauded musicians, Esa-Pekka Salonen!
The Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra is known worldwide as one of Europe’s most versatile orchestras with an exciting and varied repertoire and a constant striving to break new ground. The orchestra’s high-quality music making as well as its collaborations with internationally renowned composers, conductors and soloists have been rewarded with numerous prizes and accolades.
Permanent home of the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra since 1979 is Berwaldhallen, the Swedish Radio’s concert hall. In addition to the seated audience, the orchestra reaches millions of listeners on the radio and the web through Klassiska konserten i P2. Several concerts are also broadcast and streamed on Berwaldhallen Play and in Swedish Television, offering the audience more opportunities to come as close as possible to one of the world’s top orchestras.
“The orchestra has a unique combination of humility, sensibility and musical imagination”, says Daniel Harding, Music Director of the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra since 2007. “I have never had a concert with the orchestra where they haven’t played as though their lives depended on it!” The orchestra is also proud to have Klaus Mäkelä as its Principal Guest Conductor since 2018.
The first radio orchestra was founded in 1925, the same year that the Swedish Radio Service began its broadcasts. The Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra received its current name in 1967. Through the years, the orchestra has had several distinguished Music Directors. Two of them, Herbert Blomstedt and Esa-Pekka Salonen, have since been appointed Conductors Laureate, as well as Valery Gergiev, a regular guest conductor and co-founder of the Baltic Sea Festival.
Esa-Pekka Salonen’s restless innovation drives him constantly to reposition classical music in the 21st century. In 2020, he will become the Music Director of the San Francisco Symphony. He is the Principal Conductor and Artistic Advisor for London’s Philharmonia Orchestra, where the award-winning RE-RITE and Universe of Sound installations have allowed people all over the world to step inside the orchestra through audio and video projections. Salonen also drove the development of a much-hailed tablet app, The Orchestra, which gives the user unprecedented access to the internal workings of eight symphonic works.
As the Music Director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, where he is now Conductor Laureate, Salonen was instrumental in opening the Frank Gehry-designed Walt Disney Concert Hall and made the orchestra one of the best attended and funded in the country. He is the Artist in Association at the Finnish National Opera and Ballet, and the co-founder of the annual Baltic Sea Festival. In 2015, he addressed the Apple Distinguished Educator conference on the uses of technology in music education.
With a combination of artistic integrity, intensity and elegance, the cellist Truls Mørk has played his way to the very top as a soloist. He performs with the foremost orchestras around the world and has recently performed with the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra, Gewandhaus Orchester Leipzig, Orchestre de Paris and Tonhalle Orchester Zurich, to mention but a few. Mørk has recorded the great solo concerts of Dvořák and Elgar, as well as Britten and Shostakovich, and also the collective Cello Suites of both Bach and Britten. He has also begun touring with the pianist Behzod Abduraimov. Mørk is dedicated to contemporary music and has performed more than 30 works, such as Krzysztof Penderecki’s Concerto for Three Cellos, Hafliði Hallgrímsson’s Cello Concerto and Einojuhani Rautavaara’s Towards the Horizon.
Concert length: 2 h incl. intermission
No bus to Berwaldhallen from Stockholm City –
Busline 69 is shortened and runs Karlaplan – Kaknästornet / Blockhusudden. For more information, please visit www.sl.se/en/
FESTIVAL OFFER (Östersjöklippet)
With the Baltic Sea Festival Offer (Östersjöklippet), you get three different levels at a discount – 10, 15 and 20% off the regular fare depending on whether you buy three, four or five different concerts at the same time.