Paavo Järvi & Tonhalle-Orchester Zürich

Published on 06/09/2019

Paavo Järvi records his first album as Chief Conductor of Tonhalle-Orchester Zürich for Alpha Classics

© Alberto Venzago

Paavo Järvi is the new Chief Conductor and Music Director of Tonhalle-Orchester Zürich as of the 2019-20 season. Their first performances together were met with a rapturous welcome and look set to signal a promising and fruitful partnership. Together they have recorded a programme dedicated to various orchestral works by Olivier Messiaen, written both early and later in his career.

The Messiaen album is released on 27 September to coincide with Paavo Järvi’s inauguration concert in Zürich on 2 October.  The first season will be devoted to Järvi’s Nordic roots and opens with Sibelius’s Kullervo, to be followed by the complete cycle of Tchaikovsky symphonies, which Alpha Classics will release in March 2021 to accompany the reopening of the mythical Tonhalle after its extensive renovation and where the orchestra makes its home right on the banks of Lake Zürich.

About the Messiaen programme, Paavo Järvi commented:
“I have always greatly admired French music since I was very young. Two composers occupied a special place in my musical universe and repertoire: Dutilleux and Messiaen. But I consider Messiaen, even from today’s perspective - after the Second Viennese School, French Serialism and everything else we have gone through musically – as a very original voice, absolutely unique in its genre. You only need to listen to three seconds of one of his works to realise straightaway that it’s Messiaen. His style is so unmistakably identifiable. I felt it would be a very good idea to begin my work with the Tonhalle-Orchester Zürich by featuring composers whom I really love...and Messiaen is certainly one of those (...) If you listen carefully to his music, you notice that the harmony is constantly changing, so much so that you can never predict what note will come next. And yet once you have heard the whole chordal progression, you feel that it had to be like that, that it could not have been any different. Messiaen’s harmony does not sound like a chance experiment, instead it has inevitable sense.” *

Didier Martin, Director of the label Alpha Classics, comments on the new collaboration:
"We are very happy to continue our journey with Paavo Järvi, who is one of the great conductors of our time. During his concerts conducting the Tonhalle-Orchester Zürich in 2019, notably in Mahler and also in these works by Messiaen – we quickly felt that a great story was emerging between the musicians and their new conductor...When Paavo Järvi, a great record enthusiast himself and boasting an impressive discography, told us that he wanted to start his recordings in Zürich with Messiaen and then Tchaikovsky, two composers that he had not – or had very little – previously recorded, we were absolutely delighted.”

Ilona Schmiel, Artistic and Executive Director of the Tonhalle-Orchester Zürich, stated:
"With this first recording in collaboration with Alpha Classics, the Tonhalle-Orchester Zürich is beginning an important new chapter in its recording history. The fact that Paavo Järvi is focusing on Olivier Messiaen's little-known early works may come as a surprise. However, the results are arresting: they reveal timbres and colours which allow us to hear the compositions in the most multilayered way. And it is certainly a sign of what we all hope to expect from the collaboration between Paavo Järvi and the Tonhalle-Orchester Zürich.”

*Interview by Ulrike Thiele (extract from the booklet)