In Rehearsal, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Los Angeles Philharmonic

By May, Eldonna L. | Notes, September 2012 | Go to article overview

In Rehearsal, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Los Angeles Philharmonic


May, Eldonna L., Notes


In Rehearsal, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Los Angeles Philharmonic. DVD. Directed by Peter Berggren. West Long Branch, NJ: Kultur, 2009, 1997. D4577. $19.99.

Produced in 1997, this In Rehearsal program was recorded with Esa-Pekka Salonen in Los Angeles. He and members of the Los Angeles Philharmonic are featured rehearsing Debussy's La Mer at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion of the Music Center of Los Angeles County. Featuring a crosssection of leading conductors in rehearsal, this series provides insight into the process of creating great music. The conductors' variety of styles, techniques, and methods; the dialogue between an orchestra and an inspired interpreter; the intensity of the preparations for a concert performance; and the striving for perfection are captured in these revealing documentaries. Most episodes include a full run-through of the work rehearsed; however, this installment does not and that, perhaps, is its greatest flaw. All include interviews with the conductor seen at work. (Other conductors featured in the series include: John Eliot Gardiner, Valery Gergiev, and Pierre Boulez.)

Salonen, a child prodigy and eminent Finnish composer and conductor, served as the Philharmonic's Music Director from 1992-2009. Under his creative leadership the orchestra was recognized as one of the world's finest ensembles, and the rapport Salonen established with his musicians has been widely acclaimed in the international press. Ever graceful and gracious on the podium, Salonen's clarity, efficiency, and sincerity fostered an environment of cooperation between himself and the orchestra which became evident in the rehearsal process. This program provides fascinating insight into Esa-Pekka Salonen's affinity with his fellow musicians and also into Debussy's masterpiece. Salonen discusses how texture is created in the score based upon motifs, particularly those executed by the harp and cello. Although there is no complete formal analysis of the work, the conductor does provide great detail by deconstructing the work to define the simple structural elements, then reconstructs it for the benefit of his musicians. As he describes it, this constitutes ". . . getting under the skin of the piece" and he goes on to describe Debussy as a radical and risk-taker with respect to orchestration. …

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