At 56 going on 26, the Finnish conductor-composer Esa-Pekka Salonen continues to make waves. His concern for the environment manifests itself every year in his Baltic Sea festival, and his determination to embrace technological advances keeps finding new and original outlets. Last year the interactive classical-music app he co-created won a Royal Philharmonic Society award for reaching new audiences, and this year he has been part of a commercial advertising campaign to promote classical music along with Apple’s iPad Air.
He’s still doing his bit as a cheerleader for more conventional events, though always with an invigorating twist. The concert series he’s launching at the Southbank is a case in point. Entitled “City of Light: Paris 1900-1950”, it draws in two of the most versatile pianists in the game—Mitsuko Uchida and Pierre-Laurent Aimard—and one of the most flamboyantly brilliant sopranos, Barbara Hannigan. Starting with Debussy’s “Pelléas et Mélisande” and moving on via Stravinsky and Ravel to Messiaen’s “Turangalila”, these concerts reflect a musical revolution which, in Salonen’s view, is still reverberating today. ~ Michael Church
City of Light: Paris 1900-1950 Southbank Centre, from Nov 27th
Classical at a Glance
The Makropulos Affair (Bayerische Staatsoper, Munich, Oct 19th). Nadja Michael is the heroine in a new production by Arpad Schilling, with Pavel Cernoch as Albert Gregor, and Tara Erraught (the centre of a critical row at Glyndebourne) as the bewitching Christa.
Carmen (from the Met, New York, Nov 1st). Richard Eyre’s popular production goes to 2,000 theatres in 66 countries.
L’elisir d’amore (Royal Opera, London, Nov 18th). A revival of Donizetti’s comic masterpiece with Lucy Crowe, Bryn Terfel and the new tenor sensation Vittorio Grigolo. But the biggest draw is Laurent Pelly’s charming off-the-wall production.
Les Arts Florissants (Cité de la musique, Paris, Nov 21st-22nd). William Christie’s superb ensemble mark 250 years since Jean-Philippe Rameau’s death with rare airings of two of his Fontainebleau divertissements.
The Gospel According to the Other Mary (ENO, London, Nov 21st). Peter Sellars premieres John Adams’s latest opera—“an extraordinary work”, says the New York Times. ~ MC