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Salonen: "Out Of Nowhere" - Violin Concerto (2009); Nyx (2011)

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Product details

  • Audio CD (24 Sept. 2012)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Decca (UMO)
  • ASIN: B008W5TDP8
  • Other Editions: MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 59,394 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Song TitleArtist Time Price
  1. Salonen: Violin Concerto - Movement One: MirageEsa-Pekka Salonen and Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra and Leila Josefowicz 8:08£0.99  Buy MP3 
  2. Salonen: Violin Concerto - Movement Two: Pulse IEsa-Pekka Salonen and Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra and Leila Josefowicz 3:31£0.99  Buy MP3 
  3. Salonen: Violin Concerto - Movement Three: Pulse IIEsa-Pekka Salonen and Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra and Leila Josefowicz 5:22£0.99  Buy MP3 
  4. Salonen: Violin Concerto - Movement Four: AdieuEsa-Pekka Salonen and Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra and Leila Josefowicz12:01Album Only
  5. Salonen: NyxEsa-Pekka Salonen and Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra19:14Album Only

Product Description

1. Violin Concerto - Movement One: Mirage
2. Violin Concerto - Movement Two: Pulse I
3. Violin Concerto - Movement Three: Pulse II
4. Violin Concerto - Movement Four: Adieu
5. Nyx

Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By The Wolf TOP 50 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 30 Sept. 2012
Format: Audio CD
Finnish conductor Esa-Pekka Salonen is perhaps best known for his skills
as an orchestral director rather than as a composer; it is a joy, therefore,
to have stumbled across this wonderful work. The Violin Concerto "Out Of
Nowhere", completed in 2009, is here given a resplendent debut by soloist
Leila Josefowicz and the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra with Mr Salonen at
the helm. It's a fiendishly difficult piece but Ms Josefowicz hunkers down
to deliver a truly inspiring performance. She seems to have been born to play it!

The hushed celeste chords and spiky arpeggios which introduce Movement One lead
us into a bristling sonic landscape of bubbling woodwind and brooding brass.
The pervading atmospheric tension is beautifully articulated by the soloist.
In Movement Two the orchestra seems to breathe like a sleeping beast beneath
the violin's yearning search for a melodic foothold atop the tympani's faint
but steady heartbeat. The raucous rhythmic mayhem of Movement Three with its
hair raising tuttis has Ms Josefwicz plucking and sawing for all she's worth;
Movement Four, therefore, must have come as something of a relief as the work
settles down into its hauntingly lyrical conclusion. Music for a starlit night.

The inclusion of 'Nyx', a single movement composition for large orchestra,
with prominent roles for clarinet and horn section, further displays this
fine composer's richly dramatic imagination and ability to stir our spirits.

The Deutsche Grammmophon recording captures the thrilling vitality of both works.

Highly Recommended.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By xxsfgsvs TOP 500 REVIEWER on 20 Feb. 2013
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Esa-Pekka Salonen has quietly moved from being perceived as a conductor to a conductor who can dabble quite nicely in composition to a composer of serious merit. His earlier works like "Foreign Bodies"; "Wing on Wing", Piano Concerto and "LA Variations" certainly won him many fans. These works were colourfully orchestrated and combined a love of sensuous impressionist harmonies with John Adams' post-modern minimalism. The debt Salonen owed to Adam's "Naïve and Sentimental Music" was very obvious in those works: not that that is a bad thing. Just try listening to that after hearing "Foreign Bodies".

The Violin Concerto and "Nyx" show a great deal more subtlety. One review bemoans the thinner orchestration in these two works but to me they are as rich and sensuous as the other pieces: If anything the other works tended to be a little heavy handed in comparison.

My first impression of the Violin Concerto was that this was colourfully but economically orchestrated. The first three movements contrast with each other but are rather short. The slow finale is more extended and carries the main weight of the piece. The four movements, as a result, balance very well together.

"Nyx" feels like an extension and expansion from this finale, constantly shifting but always arresting. If anything it's an even more impressive work than the Violin Concerto. These two works depend less on the driving momentum of Adam's style, carrying the listener along with shifting light and colour rather than rhythmic drive: it's quite a skill to maintain a piece that way. As a result Salonen has a clearer voice of his own and is all the better for that.

My one quibble is one that I have with many recordings of contemporary works: it's far too short.
Read more ›
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Tony Wren on 3 Jan. 2015
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Great performances of very fine works by a composer much better known as a conductor.
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1 of 13 people found the following review helpful By valerie martin on 1 Jan. 2013
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
its interesting but not what I expected.its nice to hear something completely different & original sometimes.
its the only way to extend your musical appreciation.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 14 reviews
25 of 26 people found the following review helpful
2012 Grawmeyer Award ...... 25 Oct. 2012
By Y.P. - Published on
Format: Audio CD
Has the era of violin concerto as a dominating genre finally arrived? Beethoven has 5 piano concertos, but only one violin concerto. Mozart? 27+ versus 5. The piano was a dominating instrument for solo and concerto genres, but that time has long gone. Modern composers seem to prefer violin's flexibility over piano's polyphonic capacity. Evidence? Since 2004, 4 out of 9 winners of the prestigious Grawmeyer Award for Music Composition are for violin concertos (by Unsuk Chin, George Tsontakis, Brett Dean (see also Comment below for details), and Esa-Pekka Salonen), with an additional double concerto for violin and viola (György Kurtág: ...Concertante...). If we look further back, John Adams's violin concerto was also an award winner in 1995. -- How many piano concerto to have won this award? None!

Esa-Pekka Salonen has never been a revolutionary figure. He doesn't set his eyes on pushing the boundaries, in terms of forms, styles etc., despite the composer stating otherwise. (My impression anyway.) Some might complain about his "middle of the road" philosophy, but I don't agree. Salonen, like J.S. Bach, has the ability to absorb all around him and distills the best through his craftsmanship. His compositions are few, but are of uniformly high standard. This violin concerto might just be his best work yet. (I do not claim to have heard all Salonen's works.)

Salonen's style can generally be characterized as post-modern impressionism. He once remarked in an interview that the trend of classical music in the beginning of the 21st century would be closer to Debussy and Ravel than to Schoenberg and Webern. These works betrays the affinity with the impressionism in terms of color, rhythm and texture. (Note however that words are often powerless when it comes to describing music. Do yourself a favor and listen for yourself.)

In terms of performance, there are no better performers for these pieces than the violinist Lelia Josefowicz (for whom this concerto is written) and the composer himself (at the helm). Josefowicz plays the fiendishly difficult violin solo to perfection. One really has to listen to believe, but then again, the technical facility of this younger generation of performers has *on the average* reached a level unheard of previously.

The recorded sound is clear, well-balanced and full-bodied. In the violin concerto, the violin solo is placed up-close front center. One can almost hear the bow hair splashing through the air molecules and landing on the strings. It is not easy to record the full orchestra in the dual-channel stereo recordings, but here the engineers have done a beautiful job. For example, listen to Nyx and marvel at Salonen's skillful orchestration and recording engineers' excellent work: All contrapuntal lines can be easily picked up even when the full orchestra is employed. (My guess is that multi-miking was used and balancing achieved in the studio.)

Highest recommendation.

The following are composer's notes. Personal reference only! (For more details, please visit composer's own website, where you can download pp.1-17 of the full score of the 2009 Violin Concerto.)

Violin Concerto (2009)
Note by Esa-Pekka Salonen

I wrote my Violin Concerto between June 2008 and March 2009. Nine months, the length of human gestation, a beautiful coincidence. I decided to cover as wide a range of expression as I could imagine over the four movements of the Concerto: from the virtuosic and flashy to the aggressive and brutal, from the meditative and static to the nostalgic and autumnal. Leila Josefowicz turned out to be a fantastic partner in this process. She knows no limits, she knows no fear, and she was constantly encouraging me to go to places I was not sure I would dare to go. As a result of that process, this Concerto is as much a portrait of her as it is my more private narrative, a kind of summary of my experiences as a musician and a human being at the watershed age of 50.

Movement I. Mirage
The violin starts alone, as if the music had been going on for some time already. Very light bell-like sounds comment on the virtuosic line here and there. Suddenly we zoom in to maximum magnification: the open strings of the violin continue their resonance, but amplified; the light playfulness has been replaced by an extreme close-up of the strings, now played by the cellos and basses; the sound is dark and resonant.

Zoom out again, and back in after a while. The third close-up leads into a recitative. Solo violin is playing an embellished melodic line that leads into some impossibly fast music. I zoom out once again at the very end, this time straight up in the air. The violin follows.

Finally all movement stops on the note D, which leads to...

Movement II: Pulse I
All is quiet, static. I imagined a room, silent: all you can hear is the heartbeat of the person next to you in bed, sound asleep. You cannot sleep, but there is no angst, just some gentle, diffuse thoughts on your mind. Finally the first rays of the sun can be seen through the curtains, here represented by the flutes.

Movement III: Pulse II
The pulse is no longer a heartbeat. This music is bizarre and urban, heavily leaning towards popular culture with traces of (synthetic) folk music. The violin is pushed to its very limits physically. Something very Californian in all this. Hooray for freedom of expression. And thank you, guys!

Movement IV: Adieu
This is not a specific farewell to anything in particular. It is more related to the very basic process of nature, of something coming to an end and something new being born out of the old. Of course this music has a strong element of nostalgia, and some of the short outbursts of the full orchestra are almost violent, but I tried to illuminate the harmony from within. Not with big gestures, but with

When I had written the very last chord of the piece I felt confused: why does the last chord - and only that - sound completely different from all other harmony of the piece? As if it belonged to a different composition.

Now I believe I have the answer. That chord is a beginning of something new.

Nyx (2010)
Note by Esa-Pekka Salonen

Nyx is my return to the genre of pure orchestral music since Helix (2005). It employs a large orchestra, and has exposed concertante parts for solo clarinet and the horn section.

Rather than utilizing the principle of continuous variation of material, as is the case mostly in my recent music, Nyx behaves rather differently. Its themes and ideas essentially keep their properties throughout the piece while the environment surrounding them keeps changing constantly. Mere whispers grow into roar; an intimate line of the solo clarinet becomes a slowly breathing broad melody of tutti strings at the end of the 18-minute arch of Nyx.

I set myself a particular challenge when starting the composition process, something I hadn't done earlier: to write complex counterpoint for almost one hundred musicians playing tutti at full throttle without losing clarity of the different layers and lines; something that Strauss and Mahler so perfectly mastered. Not an easy task, but a fascinating one. I leave it to the listener to judge how well I succeeded.

Nyx is a shadowy figure in Greek mythology. At the very beginning of everything there's a big mass of dark stuff called Chaos, out of which comes Gaia or Ge, the Earth, who gives birth (spontaneously!) to Uranus, the starry heaven, and Pontus, the sea. Nyx (also sometimes known as Nox) is supposed to have been another child of Gaia, along with Erebus. The union of Nyx and Erebus produces Day.

Another version says that Cronos (as Time) was there from the beginning. Chaos came from Time. Nyx was present as a sort of membrane surrounding Chaos, which had Phanes (Light) at its centre. The union of Nyx with Phanes produced Heaven & Earth.

She is an extremely nebulous figure altogether; we have no sense of her character or personality. It is this very quality that has long fascinated me and made me decide to name my new orchestral piece after her.

I'm not trying to describe this mythical goddess in any precise way musically. However, the almost constant flickering and rapid changing of textures and moods as well as a certain elusive character of many musical gestures may well be related to the subject.

I have always enjoyed the unrivalled dynamic range of a large symphony orchestra, but Nyx seems to take a somewhat new direction from my earlier orchestral music: there are many very delicate and light textures, chiaroscuro instead of details bathing in clear direct sunlight. I guess this is symptomatic of growing older as we realize there are no simple truths, no pure blacks and whites but an endless variety of half shades.

Nyx was commissioned by Radio France, the Barbican Centre, Atlanta Symphony, Carnegie Hall and the Finnish Broadcasting Company YLE. It had its first performance in Théâtre du Châtelet, Paris, in February 2011 in the final concert of the Festival Présences. The Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France was conducted by the composer.
13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
Out of Nowhere, Out of Thin Air 25 Oct. 2012
By Leif Thorsted - Published on
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Finally, three years after the premier, the Solonen Violin Concerto is at last recorded! Once again, Salonen moves music forward while honoring both the past and the present. Bartok is boldly present here. Stravinsky and John Williams are referenced as well. Toru Takemitsu and John Adams flow through the orchestral soundscape. The performance by Leila Josefowicz (for whom this piece was written) is outstanding. Her playing, as well as that of the orchestra, is better than it was at the premier.
That being said, this concerto and NYX for orchestra are Salonen's least interesting works since his pre-L.A. Variations compositions. Compared to L.A. Variations, Wing On Wing (including Insomnia and Foreign Bodies), and the Piano Concerto, this composition is thin and minimal and restrained and bare. Even the trademark Salonen blooms are purposely understated. The blooms present in the L.A. Variations, Wing on Wing and Piano Concerto albums are big and thoroughly satisfying. There is a also a comparative lack of energy here. The violin and orchestra sound as if they are not wanting to demand too much of our attention. Both tread lightly throughout, with only occasional loud outbursts. Sleek, elusive felines slinking through the darkness. Salonen has been travelling all over the world, landing and flying, living up in the air, for several years. Perhaps the works on this album are a reflection of such an existence. I will still enjoy these works often. Not nearly as often however, as his greatest works.
8 of 11 people found the following review helpful
Kudos and some masterful words of critic Mark Swed 25 Oct. 2012
By Grady Harp - Published on
Format: Audio CD
Having been present at the premiere of this extraordinary new work for violin and orchestra by Esa-Pekka Salonen and like the rest of the audience being swept away not only by the incredible orchestral palette and intricate orchestration but also by the sheer virtuosity of the solo work by Leila Josefowicz, there probably is no finer response in words than those of LA Times critic Mark Swed: they deserve to be quoted here. `Esa-Pekka Salonen's violin concerto is pure, euphoric poetry with a singular sound and voice. He writes in his notes that the score is a portrait of his young soloist, Leila Josefowicz, who gives an astonishingly virtuosic and visceral performance from memory. He also calls the work a private narrative, a summary of his experiences as a musician and human being at "the watershed age of 50." The concerto lasts 31 minutes and is in four unusual movements. The first is called "Mirage." The fluid violin solos have enough scale passages and arpeggios to make Philip Glass happy, something that would have horrified a young Salonen and may well still horrify some of his European colleagues. The soloist saws away, but the orchestral texture is exceptionally sparse at first - a single chord in the celesta, a note on the harp, a ping of percussion. Josefowicz is a force of nature who gradually sweeps up the orchestra along with her. Winds and percussion amplify her brilliant lines. The strings do sometimes as well, but more often back her up with glowing chords. The interplay is dynamic, but it is also sonic. Salonen knows exactly what rings and how in the hall. Harmony is his concern in this movement, and his chords are recognizably his, but they are also, at least to mind, the signature of the hall. The job for future musicologists will be to find period instruments and acoustics to reproduce these sounds when played in other environments. The two middle movements -- "Pulse I" and "Pulse II" - are, obviously, rhythm-centric. In the first, slightly different pulses from the timpani and the solo violin interact. Salonen describes the mood as that of two lovers quietly in bed. They can hear their hearts beat. Strings shimmer. "Pulse II" is loud, fast, complex and raucous. Salonen has, for the first time, added a drum kit to his percussion arsenal. Josefowicz shimmied and gave the orchestra sass. The writing here is extraordinarily difficult, and she was on fire. Finally, "Adieu" -- a slow, extended adagio -- is time for melody. There is a big climax, but most of the time the orchestra is in the background and the violin sings. Traces of John Adams' wandering long lines can be found in her irregularly unfolding tunes. Mahler's last movement adagios also come to my mind where the music is far too inventive to ever become maudlin.'

The recording here with the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra meets the high standard of that premiere experience. The concerto is punctuate with the alluring Nyx by Salonen - a perfect companion piece for this recording. Of note, Esa-Pekka Salonen's Violin Concerto has won the 2012 University of Louisville Grawemeyer Award for Music Composition. The award is generally considered the most prestigious international honor for a new score; past winners have been several such masters of modern music as Witold Lutoslawski, György Ligeti and Pierre Boulez. This then is a timely release and the introduction to many of a violin concerto that will likely become part of the repertoire of orchestras around the world. Grady Harp, October 12
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
A treat! Don't miss this one. 7 July 2014
By J. Gabrielson - Published on
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
A stunning album!!! I love Josefowicz. Her skill is a-plus. I also love Salonen as a composer and director.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
A Great Work By A Great Composer 9 Jan. 2013
By Steve Siegelbaum - Published on
Format: Audio CD
To my mind (ears), Salonen is one of the world's greatest living composers, and the two works on this disc give ample support to my opinion. While not as adventurous or probing as his recent Piano Concerto, the Violin Concerto is an exciting and brilliantly constructed work. Moreover, the virtuosic, deeply committed playing of Josefowicz is all a composer or listener could wish for.
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