Esa-Pekka Salonen, DICHOTOMIE (2000)
Duration: 10 minutes (extract: movement 1)
Instrumentation: solo piano
Premiered by Gloria Cheng on Dec. 4, 2000, as part of the Green Umbrella Series at Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles
Copyright/publisher: Chester Music Ltd.
The composer writes:
“Dichotomie was originally intended to become a short, encore-type of piece. I wanted to write a surprise new work for Gloria Cheng for a concert dedicated to my music in Los Angeles in January 2000. I soon realized that the material I had invented had a tendency to grow into two very different kinds of music. It became obvious that this was going to be a longer piece in two movements, as the material seemed to have that sort of genetic code. I missed my deadline for the January concert and kept working during the early months of the year 2000. I put the piece aside for the summer and finally completed it in October of the same year.
“The first movement, Mécanisme, is indeed like a machine, but not a perfect one: more like one of the Tinguely sculptures (or mobiles, they really defy all attempts to categorize them), which are very active, extroverted and expressive, but produce nothing concrete. I imagined a machine that could feel some sort of joie de vivre, and in that process, i.e. becoming human, would lose its cold precision.
“Organisme, the second movement, behaves very differently. Again, the music is busy on the surface, but breathes a lot slower and deeper. The music is completely continuous; all different sections grow into each other organically. A metaphor I had in mind was indeed a tree, not a huge one, more like a slender willow that moves gracefully in the wind but returns always to its original shape and position.”
About the composer:
A lauded composer and conductor, Esa-Pekka Salonen has a restless innovation that marks him as one of the most important artists in classical music. Salonen is currently the principal conductor and artistic adviser of the Philharmonia Orchestra and conductor laureate for the Los Angeles Philharmonic, where he was music director from 1992 until 2009. The 2014-15 season finds him as the first-ever creative chair at the Tonhalle Zurich Orchestra.
Salonen opened the 2014-15 season with a performance of Berlioz’s Requiem with the Philharmonia Orchestra and tours in Europe and Japan with the Philharmonia, where he led the “City of Light: Paris 1900-1950” series as the thematic focus of the season. Throughout their relationship, Salonen and the Philharmonia have curated landmark multi-disciplinary projects, such as the award-winning “RE-RITE” and “Universe of Sound” installations, which allow members of the public to conduct, play and step inside the Philharmonia Orchestra with Salonen through audio and video projections. Salonen also drove the development of a much-hailed app for iPad, “The Orchestra,’ which allows the user unprecedented access to the internal workings of eight symphonic works. This season, Salonen also WILL make guest appearances with the Bavarian and Finnish radio symphony orchestras, Orchestre de Paris, New York Philharmonic, Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra, among others.
Salonen composes works that move freely between contemporary idioms, combining intricacy and technical virtuosity with playful rhythmic and melodic innovations. He has written several pieces for symphony orchestra, including Foreign Bodies (2001), Insomnia (2002), Wing on Wing (2004), and Nyx (2011), as well as two concertos: the first in 2007 for pianist Yefim Bronfman and the second in 2009 for violinist Leila Josefowicz. The latter was awarded the prestigious Grawemeyer Award and was featured in a 2014 international Apple ad campaign for the iPad. In September 2014, the Tonhalle Zurich Orchestra premiered Karawane, Salonen’s large-scale work for orchestra and chorus, to great acclaim.
Salonen’s extensive recording career includes a disc of his orchestral works performed by the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra, which he also conducted, as well as one of his Piano Concerto and his works Helix and Dichotomie. An album of Henri Dutilleux’s Correspondances, recorded with the Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France in the presence of the composer, was released in 2013 on Deutsche Grammophon on the composer’s 97th birthday. In 2012, Salonen recorded Saariaho’s Passion De Simone with the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra and Dawn Upshaw. That year also saw the release of the first-ever recording of Shostakovich’s previously undiscovered opera prologue, Orango, with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, and the release of Out of Nowhere, featuring Leila Josefowicz and the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra performing Salonen’s Violin Concerto and Nyx. He recently completed a 30-year project with the Los Angeles Philharmonic to record all four symphonies of his friend and mentor, Witold Lutosławski.