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Esa-Pekka Salonen

Publisher: Chester Music

Two Songs from Kalender Röd (2000)
commissioned by the Swedish Broadcasting Cooperation for the 75th Anniversary Concert of the Swedish Radio Choir
Work Notes
dedicated to the Swedish Radio Choir
Text Writer
Ann Jäderlund
Chester Music Ltd
Chorus a cappella / + 1 instrument
Year Composed
12 Minutes
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Programme Note
Esa-Pekka Salonen Two Songs from Kalender Röd (2000)
I became enchanted with Ann Jäderlund’s poetry because of its sensual intensity and lack of sentimentality. She describes sensations with amazing effectiveness, with few words but with a rhythm that immediately awakens musical associations.
In the first song, ‘Kyss min mun’ (Kiss my mouth), I tried to give musical shape to verbal images such as “touch me”, “glide”, and adjectives such as “slippery”, “round” and “loose”. In ‘Djupt I rummet’ (Deep in the room), the text is presented as a whole in a Palestrina-like simple counterpoint section at the beginning. The poem is then broken down into phonemes used as material for a musical game that becomes increasingly like a virtuoso piece until its culmination. A simple chorale featuring the poem again over slow harmonic waves concludes the work.
The songs are of course dedicated to the Swedish Radio Choir.

© Esa-Pekka Salonen, 2000

  • Ensemble
    Los Angeles Master Chorale
    Grant Gershon
Salonen's first foray into choral writing sounds remarkably fresh and involving. About 12 minutes in total, these settings of Swedish poetry move with a mysterious, serpentine grace; "Kyss Min Mum" (Kiss My Mouth) is particularly sensuous. Again, the singing and direction are first-rate, with the imprimatur of the composer.
Novelty characterized the program, without disorienting the listener. The US premiere of two strikingly sensuous choral love songs by Esa-Pekka Salonen was the centrepiece, surrounded by unfamiliar works by familiar composers. The mix becoame invigorating, the evening short. Salonen’s ‘Two Songs to Poems of Ann Jäderlund’ capture the listener through seductive tone-clusters, attractive melodic cells and unflagging sense of musical continuity. They were written during Salonen’s yearlong sabbatical from the Los Angeles Philharmonic for the 75th anniversary of the Swedish Radio Choir. In the performance, Gershwin switched the order of the two pieces without informing the audience. But only those who tried to follow the printed words may have been confused; the pleasures here were in hearing the compelling sounds of the singing, not in monitoring the Swedish text. At the end, conductor Gershon shared bows with the composer, the popular LA Philharmonic music director.
Daniel Cariaga, Los Angeles Times,18/03/2002
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