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Esa-Pekka Salonen

Publisher: Chester Music

Dichotomie (2000)
Work Notes
1. Mécanisme, 2. Organisme
Chester Music Ltd
Solo Keyboard(s)
Year Composed
17 Minutes
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Programme Note
Esa-Pekka Salonen Dichotomie (2000)
Dichotomie was originally intended to become a short encore-type of piece. I wanted to write a surprise new work for Gloria Cheng for a concert dedicated to my music in Los Angeles in January 2000. I soon realized, that the material I had invented had a tendency to grow into two very different kinds of music. It became obvious that this was going to be a longer piece in two movements as the material seemed to have that sort of genetic code. I missed my deadline for the January concert, and kept working during the early months of the year 2000. I put the piece aside for the summer, and finally completed it in October of the same year.
The first movement, Mécanisme, is indeed like a machine, but not a perfect one: more like one of the Tinguely sculptures (or mobiles, they really defy all attempts to categorize them), which are very active, extroverted and expressive, but produce nothing concrete. I imagined a machine that could feel some sort of joie de vivre, and in that process, i.e. becoming human, would loose its cold precision.

Organisme, the second movement, behaves very differently. Again, the music is busy on the surface, but breathes a lot slower and deeper. The music is completely continuous; all different sections grow into each other organically. A metaphor I had in mind was indeed a tree, not a huge one, more like a slender willow that moves gracefully in the wind but returns always to its original shape and position.

© Esa-Pekka Salonen

Sample Pages

  • Soloist(s)
    Gloria Cheng, piano
    Telarc International:
  • Soloist(s)
    Gloria Cheng, piano
  • Ensemble
    Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra
    Yefim Bronfman
    Esa-Pekka Salonen
    Deutsche Grammophon:
...a forceful evocation of the distinction between the mechanistic (in the vigorous first movement) and the organic (in the equally dense but more texturally supple finale).,14/08/2012
… its awesome virtuoso requirements were brilliantly met by Gloria Cheng, who struck flashes of lighting from the keyboard and skated across breathtaking glissandos. Occasionally there was a hint of delicate Debussyian color, and the repeated patterns of minimalism got a passing glance as well. The piece laid out clearly the way in which Salonen creates a musical idea and proceeds to play with it; no matter how thick the texture, his train of thought is never obscured.
Shirley Fleming,,22/12/2000
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