Esa-Pekka Salonen’s second season as The Marie-Josée Kravis Composer-in-Residence got off to a thrilling start last night when he conducted the Orchestra in Circle Map, a program of immersive spatial works by Finnish compatriot Kaija Saariaho presented by Park Avenue Armory.
Salonen has expanded the role of Composer-in-Residence to fuse performance and curating with composition. He returns later this season as composer when the Orchestra performs the New York Premieres of his Wing on Wing and Cello Concerto, with Yo-Yo Ma as soloist, and to conduct a U.S. Premiere by Tansy Davies with Richard Strauss’s Also sprach Zarathustra.
Mr. Salonen’s frequent collaborator, Saariaho is known for her mastery of spectralism, which uses computers to analyze and explore the nature of sound and for its full realization requires a massive open space allowing sound to surround the audience. The Armory’s Wade Thompson Drill Hall (remember Philharmonic 360?) was more than adequate!
The program includes the New York Premieres of Lumière et Pesanteur; D’OM LE VRAI SENS, for Clarinet and Orchestra, with Kari Kriikku as soloist; and Circle Map, as well as Lonh, for soprano and electronics, featuring soprano Jennifer Zetlan. Director Pierre Audi has created an immersive presentation that continually shifts the relationship between performers and audience. The staging places the Philharmonic at the center of the hall, with audience members in a half-round seating arrangement and performances taking place throughout. Longtime Kaija Saariaho collaborator Jean-Baptiste Barrière translates the composer’s soundscapes into projections that include interpretations of literary and visual artworks that inspired specific compositions.
(Photos: Chris Lee)