I have always viewed Esa-Pekka Salonen as a Yuppie, and I hate Yupppies! Having said that, Jesus, there are some Yuppies that can really DO things....
This CD is wonderful, it is a most welcome and pleasant suprise in the land of modern (contemporary) classical music.
First, the relation to Sibelius is quite obvious, but Salonen doesn't stop there. I hear a little Debussy, a little Mahler, and sometimes even a bit Messiaen. But most of all, it's all SALONEN.
The colors, the timbres; high mastery of orchestration. Ingenius. Salonen extracts sounds and vibrations from the orchestras, especially "his" LA Phil, like I have never heard before. Buy this CD for the colors of the sounds alone, and you won't be disappointed.
LA Variations is my favorite piece: Modernism that is relaxed, but never boring, with scenes of power and pure excitement that are never nerving and unlistenable. This CD wants to entertain, and it does so at the highest level of accomplishment and cultivation.
Mania is fantastic for its lyrical approach,while maintaing the surrealism of an early Rachmaninov or a Scriabin, with Karttunen as a master of his trade.
Salonen has changed, the "young bravado" like another reviewer once called him, has matured, without losing his compassion, excitement and the thrill, but by adding warmth, melody and color and feeling.
There are many things here that are new to my ears, and maybe one day we will say that the future of classical music has finally arrived...