Esa-Pekka Salonen, musical director of the Los Angeles Philarmonic Orchestra until summer 2009, is one of the most brilliant conductors of his generation. He has recently taken up the position of Principal Conductor and Artistic Advisor of the Philharmonia Orchestra in London. Although he studied at the Sibelius Academy, it took him years before considering conducting works of Finland's emblematic composer, Jean Sibelius. "To me, an ideal concert of Sibelius should be like the shattering ice, during springtime, in a Northern river: intense, beautiful, terrifying and inevitable. I am not sure if someone can ever do that, but we can at least try." During Summer 2007 in Verbier, Salonen lead the UBS Verbier Festival Orchestra, and took up this challenge in Sibelius' Fifth Symphony. He also conducts one of his own works, L.A.Variations. Premièred in 1996 and commissioned by the Los Angeles Philarmonic, this piece was written in order to highlight the virtuosity and the power of this orchestra, a challenge brilliantly taken by the UBS Verbier FO.
“Essentially this is an old fashioned TV-style concert film - and none the worse for that. It is good, though, to be allowed to see exactly how Salonen beats the tricky rhythms at the climax of his LA Variations, and to see a smile on the front desk violinist's face as the final high-sustained flute splutters out at the end.”
Click on any of the works listed above for alternative recordings.