Mao – Takacs and Herresthal’s new Saariaho disc “could scarcely be bettered”

6 November 2019

Conductor Clément Mao – Takacs and violinist Peter Herresthal’s new disc of works by Kaija Saariaho has been lauded by the press for its expressivity and virtuosity, was named BBC Music Magazine’s Concerto Choice recording of the month for December 2019, and has received nominations for an International Classical Music Award and Spellemannprisen award for best contemporary recording.

Recorded with the Oslo Philharmonic and released in September 2019 on BIS Records, the disc features works Neiges, Vers toi qui es si loin (an arrangement of the same aria from L’amour de loin made specially for Herresthal by the composer), Circle Map, and Graal Théâtre for violin and orchestra.

“Performances could scarcely be bettered. Peter Herresthal finds greater expressive variety in Graal Théâtre than Gidon Kremer… with Clément Mao – Takacs making more of those emotional contrasts in Circle Map than Susanna Mälkki. The Oslo Philharmonic evince all the clarity and fastidiousness this compelling music requires.” Richard Whitehouse, Gramophone

“In both this [Vers toi qui es si loin] and Graal Théâtre, Herresthal is a dazzling soloist, at once neat and carefree, imbuing the often-abstract score with tenderness and tackling the extended techniques with aplomb.” Claire Jackson, BBC Music Magazine: Concerto Choice, *****

"Herresthal plays skillfully and convincingly... [Vers toi qui es si loin] is an ethereally and mysteriously sounding arrangement... Neiges (1998) is heard as a rich version of 12 cellos - in the alternative, original version, there is a third less, eight... Conducted by Clément Mao-Takacs, the full orchestra plays magnificently in other works." Helsingin Sanomat *****

Both artists are experienced Saariaho interpreters, and have collaborated extensively with the composer herself. Clément Mao – Takacs has conducted the world premiere and several national premieres of the chamber version of her opera La Passion de Simone, including performances in Bratislava, Saint-Denis, Lublin, Clermont-Ferrand, Copenhagen, Tampere, Bergen and Nantes. He gave the world premiere of the chamber version of Quatre Instants and the Danish premiere of the concerto Notes on Light.

Peter Herresthal worked intensively on the score of Graal Théâtre directly with the composer, and has since performed the work with the London Sinfonietta in Bergen and London, with the Arctic Philharmonic Sinfonietta, with the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra for a televised special on BBC Four, and a staged version of the concerto in Oslo, Paris and Stavanger with La Chambre aux échos, directed by Aleksi Barrière. This recording also marks Herresthal's tenth Spellemannprisen nomination.

More information on the disc is available from the BIS website here.

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