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Esa-Pekka Salonen

Publisher: Chester Music

Helix (2005)
Commissioned by the BBC for the BBC Proms
Publisher
Chester Music Ltd
Category
Orchestra
Sub Category
Large Orchestra
Year Composed
2005
Duration
9 Minutes
Programme Note
Esa-Pekka Salonen Helix (2005)
I decided to compose a celebratory and direct overture-like piece, which would nevertheless be very rigidly structured, and based on essentially one continuous process. The form of Helix can indeed be described as a spiral or a coil; or more academically a curve that lies on a cone and makes a constant angle with the straight lines parallel to the base of the cone.

The process of Helix is basically that of a nine-minute accelerando. The tempo gets faster, but the note values of the phrases become correspondingly longer. Therefore only the material’s relation to the pulse changes, not necessarily the impression of speed itself. Hence the spiral metaphor: the material (which consists essentially of two different phrases) is being pushed through constantly narrowing concentric circles until the music reaches a point where it has to stop as it has nowhere to go.

The musical expression changes quite drastically in the course of these nine minutes: the idyllic, almost pastoral opening phrase for piccolo and contra-bassoon returns much later in the horns and trumpets, fortissimo, surrounded by a very busy tutti orchestra. The closing section shows the material in an almost manic light.

It has been a very inspiring task to write a piece for my friend Valery Gergiev and the World Orchestra for Peace, to whom Helix is dedicated. These are amazing musicians with no limits to their capacity. I have worked with many of the players over the years around the world. Writing this piece has felt like a more personal undertaking than usual.

© Esa-Pekka Salonen



  • Ensemble
    Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra
    Soloist(s)
    Yefim Bronfman
    Conductor
    Esa-Pekka Salonen
    Deutsche Grammophon:
Performances
Date
Title
  • 25 FEB 2015
    Creative Chair
    Tonhalle, Zurch, Switzerland
    Zurich Tonhalle Orchestra
    Yuja Wang (piano); Lionel Bringuier, conductor

    Other Dates:
    26 February - Tonhalle, Zurich, Switzerland
    7 March - Konzerthau, Vienna, Austria
  • 04 DEC 2014
    Los Angeles, CA
    Los Angeles Philharmonic
    Gustavo Dudamel, conductor

    Other Dates:
    5-7 December - Los Angeles, CA
  • 12 APR 2014
    Essex
    Essex Youth Orchestra
  • 24 OCT 2013
    Jones Hall, Houston, USA
    Houston Symphony Orchestra
    Hannu Lintu, conductor

    Other Dates:
    26,27 October - Jones Hall, Houston, USA
  • 24 OCT 2013
    Houston, TX
    Houston Symphony Orchestra
    Hannu Lintu, conductor

    Other Dates:
    25-27 October - Houston, TX
  • 14 FEB 2013
    Kennesaw, GA
    Kennesaw State University
    Michael Alexander, conductor
  • 14 FEB 2013
    Kennesaw, GA
    Kennesaw State University
    Michael Alexander, conductor
  • 02 FEB 2013
    Theatre du Chatelet, Paris, France
    Orchestre Pasdeloup
    Wolfgang Doerner, conductor
  • 09 NOV 2012
    Zellerbach Hall, Berkley, CA U.S.A.
    Philharmonia Orchestra
    Esa-Pekka Salonen, conductor
  • 15 AUG 2012
    Astor Theatre Perth AUSTRALIA
    West Australian Symphony Orchestra
    Paul Daniel, conductor
  • 02 MAR 2012
    The Hague, The Netherlands
    Residentie Orkest
    Santtu-Matias Rouvali, conductor
  • 02 MAR 2012
    The Hague, Netherlands
    Residentie Orkest
    Santtu-Matias Rouvali, conductor
  • 18 JAN 2012
    Helix Country Premiere
    Gothenburg Concert Hall, Gothenburg, Sweden
    Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra
    Alexander Shelley, conductor

    Other Dates:
    19 January - Gothenburg Concert Hall, Gothenburg, Sweden
  • 20 SEP 2011
    Debut im DeutschlandRadio
    Berlin, Germany
    Deutsches Symphonie- Orchester Berlin
    Yordan Kamdzhalov, conductor
  • 06 APR 2011
    Tampere Hall, Tampere, Finland
    Tampere Philharmonic Orchestra
    Hannu Lintu, conductor
  • 31 MAR 2011
    Argentina
    Orq.Sin. do Estado de Sao Paulo
    Joana Carneiro, conductor

    Other Dates:
    3 April - Argentina
  • 06 FEB 2011
    Presence Festival
    Theatre du Chatelet Paris, France
    Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France
    Esa-Pekka Salonen, conductor
  • 29 MAY 2010
    ESA-PEKKA SALONEN
    Helix Country Premiere
    Hyogo, Japan
    Philharmonia Orchestra
    Esa-Pekka Salonen, conductor

    Other Dates:
    2 June - Hyogo Prefectural Arts Theatre, Japan
    3 June - Hyogo Prefectural Arts Theatre, Japan - 7.00PM
  • 16 APR 2010
    Centro Cultural Miguel Delibes Hall, Valldolid, Spain
    Castilla and Leon Symphony Orchestras

    Other Dates:
    17 April - Leon City Hall, Leon, Spain
  • 15 APR 2010
    ESA-PEKKA SALONEN
    Helix Country Premiere
    Centro Cultural Miguel Delibes Hall, Valldolid, Spain
    Castilla and Leon Symphony Orchestras
  • 22 JAN 2010
    Tampere, Finland
    Tampere Philharmonic Orchestra
  • 12 MAR 2009
    The University Hall, Reykjavik, Iceland
    Iceland Symphony Orchestra
    Lionel Bringuier, conductor
  • 12 NOV 2008
    Jena, Germany
    Janaer Philharmonie
    Sebastian Lang-Lessing, conductor
  • 27 SEP 2008
    Nordic Focus 2008
    Casa da Musica, Porto, Portugal
    Orquestra National do Porto
    Joan Tower, conductor
  • 07 OCT 2007
    Royce Hall, UCLA, Los Angeles, USA
    American Youth Symphony Orchestra
    Alexander Treger, conductor
  • 01 JUL 2007
    Taidetehdas, Porvoo, Finland
    Avanti Chamber Orchestra
    Esa-Pekka Salonen, conductor
  • 25 JUN 2007
    Mariinsky Theatre, St. Petersburg, Russia
    Mariinski Theatre Orchestra
    Esa-Pekka Salonen, conductor
  • 28 APR 2007
    ESA-PEKKA SALONEN
    Helix New York Premiere
    NJ Performing Arts Center, New York
    Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra
    Esa-Pekka Salonen, conductor

    Other Dates:
    29 April - Lincoln Center, New York
  • 30 MAR 2007
    Walt Disney Concert Hall, Los Angeles, CA
    Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra
    Esa-Pekka Salonen, conductor

    Other Dates:
    31 March; 1 April - Walt Disney Concert Hall, Los Angeles, CA
  • 23 AUG 2006
    Tivoli Concert Hall, Copenhagen, Denmark
    Tivoli Symphony Orchestra
    Alexander Shelley, conductor

Reviews
"Helix" starts slowly at the wide end of the cone and accelerates as it spirals to the tip. But as the tempo gets faster, Salonen lengthens the phrases to give the feeling of pressure building up as music is pushed through an increasingly small space, like icing forced through a pastry cone. The work, which lasts nine minutes, ends with an orchestra in furious motion getting louder and louder
Mark Swed, LA Times,4/2/2007
...it was good to have a new work from Esa-Pekka Salonen. His Helix plays in virtuosic fashion with the metaphor of the spiral, with illusions of speed and acceleration.
Barry Millington, London Evening Standard,8/30/2005
This was another example of Salonen's recent listener-friendly style, which winds itself in tighter and tighter melodic knots...
Andrew Clements, The Guardian,8/29/2005
... an "overture-like" miniature by Esa-Pekka Salonen, Helix, an intricately written yet lucid exercise in musical acceleration...
Matthew Rye, The Daily Telegraph,8/29/2005
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