This spring The Exterminating Angel Symphony, Thomas Adès’ 2021 orchestral work based on the eponymous opera, receives national premieres in Spain, Finland, and Switzerland. On 8 March Dima Slobodeniouk conducts the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra at the Helsinki Music Centre; on the same day at the KKL Luzerne James Gaffigan conducts the Luzerner Sinfonieorchester in the 20-minute piece. Thomas Adès conducts three performances of the work with Orquesta Nacionale de España in Madrid from 10 March at the Auditorio Nacional de Música. There Adès is joined by violinist Anthony Marwood for Märchentänze, his 13-minute suite of four pieces for violin and orchestra inspired by British folk music, not least Steeleye Span.
The Exterminating Angel Symphony was commissioned by City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, as part of its Centenary Commissions; together with The Cleveland Orchestra - Franz Welser-Möst, Music Director; Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra; Carnegie Hall; Orquesta Nacionale de España; Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks; Radio France; and Luzerner Sinfonieorchester. The City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra recently toured the piece to the United States, including concerts at the Walt Disney Hall in Los Angeles, Davies Hall in San Francisco, and New York’s Carnegie Hall.
The Exterminating Angel is one of the great operas of our time — a work of wicked humor and dark beauty that befits both the 1962 Luis Buñuel film that inspired it and the overwhelming dread and instability we try to live with today. […] The sound world Adès conjures throughout is dramaturgically airtight: shifting harmonies […], dense forces of cosmic immensity. […] This symphony cleverly echoes the opera without excerpting it. Gone is the eerie ondes Martenot, though it lives on in swinging glissandos in the strings; still intact, however, is the opera’s excess and horror…The grim lyricism of Adès’ love songs and lullabies returns with another Berceuse, followed by the finale, “Waltzes”, a rhapsodic assemblage that evolves into a relentless danse macabre analogue to the opera itself.
The New York Times (Josh Barone) 24 November 2022
…up popped the set pieces…”Entrance,” introducing the doomed socialites in Act I; “March,” the fiercely sardonic entr’acte after their party goes strangely awry; “Berceuse,” a rare moment of tenderness in a lovers’ duet…The last movement, “Waltzes,” was a different animal…He did not go on to say he had updated Ravel’s La Valse by a hundred years, but that was the effect of this striking composition, with its mingled yearning, tenderness, irony, and feeling of doom…a satisfyingly symphonic finale to justify its title.
New York Classical Review (David Wright), 23 October 2022
The Tempest Symphony, Adès’ latest orchestral piece derived from his work for the stage, receives its UK premiere from the London Philharmonic Orchestra on 22 February at the Southbank Centre, conducted by the composer, alongside the Inferno Suite from his award-winning 2021 ballet The Dante Project. The ballet, choreographed by Wayne McGregor with designs by Tacita Dean, will receive its French premiere at the Opéra national de Paris in April this year, conducted by the composer and Gustavo Dudamel.