The Guardian reviews the opening season concert with the Philharmonia and Esa Pekka Salonen in London

“Some conductors would be content to open an orchestral season with Beethoven’s Choral symphony and leave it at that. Not Esa-Pekka Salonen. The Philharmonia’s principal conductor is an ideas man. As one would expect, he delivered a satisfyingly blazing account of the Ninth. But he also placed it firmly in a context that made one think about Beethoven’s artistic journey towards the originality of the Ninth and about the enduring legacy of this most unsurpassable symphonic statement.

“… Before all this (Beethoven’ Symphony no. 9), a contrast, with Leif Ove Andsnes the brightly meticulous soloist in Beethoven’s bobby-dazzling first piano concerto. The work contains almost as many innovative ideas in it as does the Ninth. A less interesting conductor than Salonen might reasonably have stopped there. But, to begin the concert, Salonen directed a meticulous performance of Kurtág’s Quasi una Fantasia. The Beethovenian allusion in the title seemed a long way from the tiny shards of spatially distinct sound generated by players scattered all through the hall and high up in the boxes. But the care with which Salonen later conjured the simmering cosmos of the Ninth made the stylistic gulf between the two composers more navigable.”

Source: The Guardian