For the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s three-week festival Reveries and Passions, guest conductor Esa-Pekka Salonen will lead the orchestra in several masterpieces of French repertoire: Debussy’s Pelléas et Mélisande, Ravel’s L’enfant et les sortilèges and Messiaen’s Turangalîla-symphonie.

In this video interview, he previews the festival, which runs May 3-23 at Symphony Center.

On Pelléas et Mélisande: “When you speak with French composers and musicians and music lovers, this [opera] is the year zero. Time is either before or after Pelléas.”

On L’enfant et les sortilèges: “For me, Ravel is the greatest master of orchestration. The sheer fantasy, scale, perfection of everything — near magical.”

On the Turangalîla-symphonie:It’s a cosmic dance, it’s the dance of the stars and the planets. It takes you to some kind of a nirvana.”