Adès: Orchestral Works

In autumn 2021, the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra and its newly appointed chief conductor, Nicholas Collon, staged a festival of music by the English composer Thomas Adès. A string of studio sessions followed, and the result is Märchentänze, an album which fills significant gaps in the Adès discography. “Thomas Adès is, for me, one of the most important of our living composers, and on this album, we bring together four pieces which have never been recorded before,” Collon tells Apple Music. “Each of the four pieces on the album has a unique story behind it and shows off a different aspect of Adès’ compositional virtuosity.” Front and center on the new release is Märchentänze (“Dances From Fairytale”) itself, an orchestration of a piece Adès originally wrote in 2020 for violin and piano. “It’s like a mini violin concerto set around folk tunes,” Collon says, its opening movement skirling exuberantly in the hands of the Finnish soloist Pekka Kuusisto. Lieux retrouvés dates from 2016 and draws even more specifically on a sense of place. Collon views it as “a mini cello concerto evoking four outdoor French scenes”—water, mountain, fields, and town. Each movement is graced by Adès’ luminescent instrumentation and the richly lyrical playing of cellist Tomas Nuñez. Glitz, raunchiness, and sleaze jostle together in the Hotel Suite, a set of five orchestral movements gleaned from Adès’ breakthrough opera Powder Her Face. It’s a personal favorite of Collon’s. “I adore the swagger of the Hotel Suite,” he says. “In this version, you can hear the brilliant saxophones and clarinets running riot in the second movement.” Collon is delighted with the sharp, gutsy performances of his Finnish orchestra on Märchentänze and credits Adès himself with tutoring the players in the special idiom and atmosphere of his compositions. “Tom has a very special relationship with the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra,” Collon comments. “He has conducted them several times, and the orchestra understands the precision and virtuosity required to play his wonderful music. Every corner of this music yields delights.”

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