"...the full breadth of Adès’s technical mastery has been put to the service of creating a vast world of imaginative fantasy." The Boston Globe (Jeremy Eichler)

In March Thomas Adès conducted Paradiso from his acclaimed ballet score Dante in Rome and Boston, with the Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia and Boston Symphony Orchestra. The performance in Rome saw the Italian premiere of Paradiso; in Boston the final section of the ballet was complemented by the 18 ½ minute Inferno Suite.

In both cities Adès conducted Paradiso which premiered in 2021 in London with choreography by Wayne McGregor. The 24-minute climb of Dante and Virgil into heaven sees the orchestra joined by a female chorus, whose wordless text was sung by the upper voices of the Coro dell'Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia and Tanglewood Festival Chorus respectively.

Adès’ music for Paradiso was partly inspired by Gustave Doré’s illustrations for the final part of The Divine Comedy: “their millions of tiny angels vanishing into rings of pure white: that was a model for me.” The piece, in ten unbroken sections, is built around the motion of an ascending spiral, a core idea in several works by Adès, including 2005 Violin Concerto Concentric Paths – also choreographed by Wayne McGregor – and Polaris (2010), choreographed previously by Crystal Pite.

The first recording of Dante will be released on Nonesuch this May, with Gustavo Dudamel conducting the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra, who gave the US premiere of the score in concert last year. The showstopping galop from Inferno ‘The Thieves – devoured by reptiles’ was released as a single earlier this year.

In addition to the digital version, Nonesuch releases a collectable limited-edition two-LP vinyl edition of the album, featuring artwork by Tacita Dean and photography from the Royal Ballet’s performance; the artwork and photography are also in the CD packaging. Pre-order here. In May Adès conducts the French premiere of The Dante Project at the Opéra national de Paris. The performances coincide with a major retrospective of Dean’s work in Paris at La Bourse de commerce.


“Dante” is a major new work, a tour de force in which…the full breadth of Adès’s technical mastery has been put to the service of creating a vast world of imaginative fantasy. The inspiration that Adès, in his own telling, draws from Liszt is palpable, but, as is his way within his own signature style, tradition is just one mask of many that he dons. The past is politely “revered” one moment, and then irreverently smeared or skewered in the next. Time and again the music romps across scenes and centuries with a fluidity, boldness, and kinetic force that is his alone.

Thursday’s performance made one eager to encounter the work in its entirety.

The Boston Globe (Jeremy Eichler), 24 March 2023

…the composer-conductor has crafted a stirring ballet. The music reflects recent developments in his musical language: never at a loss for inventive thematic turns or creative handling of instruments, Adès has, in the last few years, seemed increasingly at ease with the idea of expressive directness and melodic primacy…all of it is filtered through Adès’ singular musical voice and, accordingly, the piece could only have come from his pen…full of subtle motivic transformations, blazing orchestral colors, and a Beethovenian reliance on the simplest of musical building blocks…Adès’ 25-minute-long movement rarely wants for something to say or a place to go.

Boston Classical (Jonathan Blumhofer) 24 March 2023

These works explore death, eternal damnation, and heavenly bliss in bold, Technicolor fashion…Inferno offers a vivid journey through the nine circles of hell in terrifying splendor. Orchestral sections shout, growl, titter, and scatter, generating a kaleidoscope of sound…Paradiso paints a complementary scene through slowly revolving shapes. Melodic fragments chatter relentlessly, with woodwinds and strings bringing gossamer delicacy to the opening. This music mesmerizes moment to moment. Yet Adès manages to build beyond contentment by including some satisfying momentum.

The Arts Fuse (Aaron Keebaugh) 24 March 2023