Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra, Esa-Pekka Salonen
Durée totale de lecture 1:06:43
Esa-Pekka Salonen: Citizen of Music
It was "with great excitement and anticipation" that Esa-Pekka Salonen viewed the new collaboration with Deutsche Grammophon as he signed his exclusive contract. Salonen referred to "the most prestigious label in the recording industry today", dedicated to "uncompromising music of high quality, old and new" - and the Finnish conductor-composer himself embodies that ideal with greater commitment than any other artist of his generation. It is the basis of his extraordinary career, the most recent fruits of which are now being presented by Deutsche Grammophon on the first CD dedicated to Salonen's works: music that belongs wholly to the present moment while looking with great vigour and confidence to the future.
With its giant "sails", Los Angeles's Walt Disney Concert Hall, which opened in 2003, could serve as a symbol of how this Finn's presence in the "City of Angels" has truly represented a breath of fresh air for Southern California as a centre of classical music. Esa-Pekka Salonen's 13 years as music director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic has left a profound mark on the city's musical life.
Although his bold, adventurous programming cultivates a decidedly contemporary aesthetic, he sees himself in an age-old tradition, as a resident Kapellmeister of the old school, whose ambition is focussed above all on making his own orchestra into a distinctive ensemble: "My generation is more interested in building things up than in building a career. We want to become a sort of citizen of music: building up an orchestra, building up festivals, investing in education - these are far more important than running around the world to glamorous guest-conducting gigs." And he's as good as his word: in February 2005 Salonen celebrates the 20th anniversary of his Los Angeles Philharmonic debut and in March takes up a residency with his orchestra at the Cologne Philharmonie.
At times, however, a feeling of nostalgia comes over the Finn in LA: "I very much enjoy the energy and joy of my adopted hometown of Los Angeles. And yet, I sometimes do feel foreign, a misplaced shy northerner amidst extroverted and confident Californians. This polarity can actually be quite inspiring - though in my worst moments I feel like some sort of middle-aged Tonio Kröger, the Thomas Mann character who leaves his native northern Germany for the beauty and warmth of Italy only to return to the North in the end."
And so Salonen keeps returning to "his" Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra, with which he made his conducting debut in 1979. In his Scandinavian homeland, too, he is constantly launching new projects. Thus he is artistic director of the Sibelius Conducting Competition in Helsinki and of the Baltic Sea Festival, which he founded in 2003 and with which he aims to support the Baltic region not only musically but also ecologically, through seminars of the environmental foundation World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF). The longer Esa-Pekka Salonen lives abroad, the prouder he becomes of being a Finn: "I'm more aware of my Finnish identity than ever before, and I'm so proud of the extraordinary musical achievements of that strange and remote country, of which the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra (for which Foreign Bodies was written) is a splendid example."