Conductors & Piano

Thomas Adès

Appointed Artistic Partner of the Boston Symphony Orchestra through 2019

Winner of the ‘World Premiere of the Year’ for his third opera ‘The Exterminating Angel’ – Opera Awards 2017

© Brian Voce

Introduction

Born in London, Thomas Adès studied at the GSMD and at King’s College, Cambridge. As a conductor, he has worked with the Los Angeles Philharmomic, Royal Concertgebouw, London Symphony, New York Philharmonic, Boston Symphony, Chamber Orchestra of Europe, Mariinsky and Ensemble Modern.

He performs worldwide as a pianist and made his Carnegie Hall solo debut in 2007. For The Royal Opera he has conducted The Tempest and The Rake’s Progress. Recent conducting engagements include The Tempest (Metropolitan Opera, New York, Vienna State Opera), The Exterminating Angel (Salzburg Festival), his three orchestral works Asyla, Polaris and Tevot with the London Symphony Orchestra, recently released on LSO Live and the UK premiere of Lieux Retrouves for cello and orchestra with Britten Sinfonia (BBC Proms).

His 2016/17 season plans include Totentanz with the Boston Symphony, Los Angeles Philharmonic and the RTE National Symphony Orchestras; a European tour of a Beethoven/Barry programme with the Britten Sinfonia; Barry’s new opera Alice under ground in Los Angeles (world premiere) and in London (European premiere); as well as performances of Adès’ latest opera The Exterminating Angel at the Royal Opera House and next season at the Metropolitan Opera.


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From The Green Room

Discography

  • 26 Oct 17 ADÈS The Exterminating Angel
    Metropolitan Opera
    More info  

    “If you go to a single production this season, make it this one.”

    Anthony Tommasini, New York Times, 27 October 2017

    “Seldom has a dramatic work come to more vivid life in its musical realization. Adès’ latest is a masterpiece in every sense; with two stirring successes under his belt, he’s established an impressive track record of presenting major new works at the Met, albeit after previous showings elsewhere. Sooner or later, the company ought to take a real chance and offer an Adès world premiere.”

    Eric C. Simpson, New York Classical Review, 27 October 2017

    “With a cast of dozens and a sweeping modernistic score conducted by the composer, The Exterminating Angel has been awaited with such high expectations that its arrival has gained the status of a major cultural event in New York’s music world.”

    Wilborn Hampton, Huffington Post, 27 October 2017

    “The highly anticipated American première of Thomas Adès The Exterminating Angel was an eminent success, with singers, orchestra, and staging all in top form … Like Buñuel’s film, The Exterminating Angel resists explanation, and the ambiguity of the story drives much of its compelling nature. Superb execution all around, from Adès’ conducting, the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra’s playing, Tom Cairn’s simple yet powerful production, and a top-notch cast of singers made for a highly captivating and memorable performance.”

    ★★★★ Vishnu Bachani, Bachtrack, 28 October 2017

    “For now, Adès’s opera has staked its claim, even at the gigantic Met.”

    ★★★★ John Rockwell, Financial Times, 31 October 2017

    “Ades was on the podium in a stellar performance from the Met orchestra and a cast that couldn’t be bettered in putting across the sometimes-complexly modern, sometimes-pastiche (but rarely dull) score. Who knows when the Met will mount it again, so it’s worth taking a look and listen.”

    Richard Sasanow, Broadway World, 01 November 2017

    “This thoroughly engrossing production, which I’d happily see again, is an encouraging sign of the vitality of opera as a compelling contemporary medium”

    Joshua Rosenblum, Zeal NYC, 01 November 2017

  • 26 May 17 BEETHOVEN/BARRY Beethoven Cycle with Britten Sinfonia
    More info  

    St Andrew’s Hall, Norwich

    “In the opening concert of his project with the Britten Sinfonia (which will take place over three years), Adès as conductor showed the precise nature of his abilities – by making Beethoven’s tried and tested 1st and 2nd Symphonies seem as fresh and innovative as they must have done when they were unleashed on an unsuspecting public over 200 years ago.”

    ★★★★ Ben Lawrence, The Telgraph, 15 June 2017

     

    Saffron Hall, Saffron Walden

    “In a different way, the first two Beethoven symphonies that followed seemed strikingly original, too. With an orchestra of more than 40 players, unprecedented for the Britten Sinfonia, Adès’s performances were emphatically modern ones. The use of hard sticks for the timpani seem to be the only concession to period niceties, but tempi were brisk, and vibrato was never overdone, so that the textures always remained wonderfully detailed and teemed with rhythmic life. Every bar of each symphony seemed thrillingly restored, honed down to their muscular core.”

    ★★★★ Andrew Clements, The Guardian, 30 May 2017

     

    Barbican Centre, London

    2 June Concert:

    “The Symphony no. 1 in C major opened with powerful pizzicato, clean and full. Tempi were bracing, no stately classical pomposity from Adès; rather, a sense of drama, particularly in the way he emphasised the woodwind against the strings. The brass was more collegiate than domineering, and there was a thrilling bite to the strings in the Andante. Adès spun out the tension in the opening to the fourth movement; his control seemed to be tight here, allowing for strong definition within the orchestra. This was probably the most enjoyable reading of the symphony I’ve heard; fresh, original and full of detail… Simply unmissable!”

    ★★★★ Dominic Lowe, Bachtrack, 4 June 2017

    6 June, Concert:

    “The Scherzo third movement was the most successful, Adès here allowing the woodwind soloists to fill out phrases, that continuity of line effectively balancing the rhythmic impulse from the podium: rare moments of lyrical beauty in an otherwise breathless and unrelenting account.”

    Gavin Dixon, The Art Desk, 7 June 2017

  • 24 Apr 17 ADÈS The Exterminating Angel
    The Royal Opera House
    More info  

    “Ades’ opera is a triumph: his finest stage work so far. Part of its strength lies in his ability to add texture – both poetic and psychological – to that of the film. Whereas Buñuel’s characters are sometimes difficult to tell apart, Ades’ are clearly differentiated, the music fleshing out their quirks and quiddities.”

    ★★★★Barry Millington, Evening Standard, 25 April 2017

    “It is at once surreal, mysterious, macabre and threatening, and Adès’s score is all these things and more. He draws on sources as far-flung as Strauss waltzes, Spanish flamenco and Hebrew songs, and piles them up with shattering power. Buñuel’s avenging angel, the score seems to say, has been with us always and everywhere, and its force is undimmed. Adès’s capacity for invention here is nothing less than prodigious. You come out with your head spinning with music.”

    ★★★★Richard Fairman, Financial Times, 25 April 2017

    “There is no doubting Adès’s astonishing dexterity and perspicacity, nowhere more evident than in his inventive handling of the large orchestral forces, comprising piano, guitar and a whole arsenal of percussion.”

    Claire Seymour, Opera Today, 25 April 2017

  • 03 Mar 17 ADÈS Asyla, Pevot, Polaris CD
    More info  

    “What strikes one most about these performances is how brilliantly Adès, as composer and also as conductor, marshals what often seem like collisions of contradictory ideas into cogent and compelling structures.”

    Richard Morrison, The Times, 3 March 2017

    “With Adès conducting, the London Symphony Orchestra reaches for the stars.”

    ★★★★★ Richard Fairman, Financial Times, 3 March 2017

    “These are works that demonstrate not only Adès’ genius, but also his wit.”

    Daniel Spehen Johnson, Q2 Music, 13 March 2017

    “Thomas Adès has become. arguably and justifiably, England’s most prominent living composer.”

    Audiophile Audition, 8 April 2017

  • 16 Aug 16 Prom Britten Sinfonia
    The Royal Albert Hall
    More info  

    “Bertolt Brecht said that “Mixing one’s wines may be a mistake, but old and new wisdom mix admirably”. In an inspired bit of programming, this Prom saw old and new works mixing very well indeed. As an added dimension, the two symphonies performed in this concert expressed new wisdom for their time but were also indebted to the old wisdom of Haydn and the classical tradition…Adès drew out of the orchestra all the subtle nuances required, and encouraged tremendous attack and bite in the more gritty sections”
    Bachtrack, Mark Thomas

    “Two recent string concertos featured in the Britten Sinfonia’s Prom underThomas Adès, one of them by the conductor himself. Originally written in 2009 as a piece for cello and piano, Lieux Retrouvés (Places Revisited) was heard in a new version for cello and small orchestra…Isserlis brought subtlety and conviction to the piece.”
    The Guardian, George Hall

    “The effect in the Hall was ear-tickling, even poignant.”
    Classical Source, David Gutman

    “Two pieces written in recent years were framed by two symphonies in this Prom from the Britten Sinfonia, conducted by Thomas Adès. Together they created an interesting programme…Thomas Adès originally wrote Lieux retrouvés, Op. 26 as a cello sonata in 2009…With the piece conducted by the person who naturally understood it better than anyone else, and the soloist being Steven Isserlis for whom Adès had originally written the work, we felt we were experiencing the definitive performance of the piece.”

    MusicOMH, Sam Smith

  • 28 Jul 16 ADÈS The Exterminating Angel
    Salzburg Festival
    More info  

    “Adès’s score is brilliant’…Thomas Adès’s new opera is musically dazzling… This is utterly assured writing, clever, effective, dazzling, complex… This is athletic, demanding music which is performed with polish and flair.”
    Shirley Apthorp, Financial Times, 29 July 2016

    “Adès delivers unmissable operatic adaptation
    The composer-conductor offers some of his most powerful orchestral writing in this pared down but magnificent take on Luis Buñuel’s surrealist film….With Adès himself conducting the ORF Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra, that music is constantly fascinating.”
    Andrew Clements, The Guardian, 29 July 2016

  • 09 Mar 16 LSO Composer Focus
    Barbican Centre
    More info  

    “As conductor, Adès shone in the difficult task of accompanying the volatile piece [Brahms Violin Concerto/Anne-Sophie Mutter]
    Both pieces [Polaris and Tevot] – the first described as a voyage for orchestra, the second referring to Noah’s Ark and the cradle which carried the baby Moses down the river – comprise musical journeys, and both also emphasise Adès’s ability to write for orchestra with a sumptuousness of texture, a colouristic range and an immediacy of idea that a composer of film scores might envy. The performances under the composer’s baton proved authoritative.”
    George Hall, The Guardian, 10 March 2016

    “Adès writes so brilliantly for orchestra. Fascinatingly multilayered textures are marshalled into admirably cogent structures, which he clarifies even further with his idiosyncratic but effective conducting.”
    Richard Morrison, The Times, 10 March 2016

    “Thomas Adès, Anne-Sophie Mutter and the LSO ravish the Barbican with an outstanding programme of Adès and Brahms

    Thomas Adès, in the first concert of his mini Composer Focus with the LSO, conducted three of his own works and one by Brahms, displayed why he is one of the hottest musical properties in the UK at the moment. This is a supremely gifted musician who knows what he wants to say and has the technical ability to say it, both as composer, conductor and accompanist.”
    Chris Garlick, BachTrack, 10 March 2016

  • 12 Jan 15 SCHUBERT Winterreise Barbican Centre
    With Ian Bostridge
    More info  

    “Adès proved a fully equal partner, whose own contribution was regularly understated but also managed to reveal much of the music’s character, while remaining deftly fluent. Notable throughout was his subtle balancing of the piano part’s internal voices, including his highlighting of vital secondary lines. In Frühlingstraum he travelled from the infinite delicacy of the innocent opening melody to the dull thud of the concluding chord. He found sepulchral sonorities in Das Wirtshaus, eerie half-lights in Die Krähe, and communicated marvellously the deceptive simplicity of Täuschung.”
    George Hall, The Guardian, 13 January 2015

    “This was without doubt the most extraordinary, riveting, uncanny performance of Schubert’s great song-cycle Winterreise I have ever witnessed… It fell to pianist Thomas Adès to paint these varied scenes, which he did with remarkable artistry and the precision and delicacy of a watercolourist. When he allowed a deeper, stronger tone to break through, the effect was startling: as in Irrlicht (Will-o’-the-wisp), where he took us for a moment into Janácek’s heart-stoppingly intense world.
    This contrast between singer and pianist created a lovely emotional chiaroscuro…one must salute the unbelievable cumulative intensity these two achieved, honed to a fine point in the final song Der Leiermann (The Hurdy-Gurdy Man), rendered with a frozen slowness that was both startling and exactly right.”
    Ivan Hewett, The Telegraph, 13 January 2015

    “An unforgettable concert,with Thomas Ades providing an accompaniment of exquisite delicacy and suggestiveness.
    …what riveted us was not so much Bostridge’s beauty of tone as the emotional truth of every line, underscored as it was by Ades’s refined pianism. Unforgettable.”
    Michael Church, The Independent, 13 January 2015

  • 30 Oct 14 ADÈS See the Music, Hear the Dance
    Sadler's Wells Theatre
    More info  

    “Sadler’s Wells has been presenting an ambitious programme of choreography set to the music of the entrancingly inventive Thomas Adès… Polaris shows the talented Pite working at an exceptional level of confidence. It also reminds us that someone (Millepied perhaps) needs to commission Adès to write a designated dance score.”

    Judith Mackrell, The Guardian, 2 November 2014

    “The title of this programme of dance set to the music of Thomas Adès is a quotation from the celebrated choreographer George Balanchine about his collaborations with Stravinsky. And it doesn’t feel too fanciful to see this inventive, pioneering British composer as a Stravinsky of our time, putting his music at the service of dance.
    These four works, made to pre-existing Adès scores, also prove another Balanchine adage that “dance is music made visible.” They transform and reveal the music in exciting new ways.
    Throughout, the playing of the Britten Sinfonia is outstanding (with Thomas Gould a dazzling violin soloist) and it is a pure pleasure to see Adès, whether conducting or playing the piano, responding to the dance and the dancers.
    It is, then, an outstanding evening.”
    Sarah Crompton, The Telegraph, 1 November 2014

    “Contemporary dance and contemporary music meet in an eager tryst between composer Thomas Adès and an assortment of choreographers. Four works, two new commissions, 78 dancers, a vast orchestra in the pit and Adès himself at the piano. It’s a sensory feast…
    Pite had to come up with a big idea to match the eponymous score, which is cinematic in scope, sci-fi in tone; what a 21st-century Star Wars should sound like. She corrals a cast of 64 who move as a single organism, black-clad bodies swarming on stage like a thick murmuration of starlings. They swell and huddle, pulsating like bubbling tar, falling in domino effect, all subtly, beautifully lit. A fantastic finale.”
    Lyndsey Winship, Evening Standard, 3 November 2014

    “What a remarkable pleasure it is to hear music of this calibre and complexity used for contemporary dance… I was delighted and intrigued by the seriousness and richness of Adés’s scores when I started listening to them before the show. An even greater pleasure awaited at Sadler’s: the very fine playing of the Britten Sinfonia…
    Huge scope and spectacle definitely brought the dance out on top here, matching the theatricality of Adès’s score (played from corners of the auditorium as well as from the pit, with the composer himself at the baton) with something just as impressive.”
    Hanna Weibye, The Arts Desk, 1 November 2014

  • 22 Jun 14 Schubert 'Winterreise' With Ian Bostridge
    Snape Maltings Concert Hall
    More info  

    “…it was an evening enhanced by the generosity of both musicians. In “Der Lindenbaum” (“The Linden Tree”), a song of bleak nostalgia and fleeting sweetness, there were alternating flourishes, Adès barely leaving an impression on the keys during the heartbreaking third verse, then attacking the piano interludes with propulsive focus.”
    Laura Battle, The Financial Times, 24 June 2014

  • 11 Jun 14 CBSO - June 2014
    Symphony Hall Birmingham
    More info  

    “Ades began his programme with Ravel’s Mother Goose ballet, beautifully shaped and glowing… double-basses wonderfully grunting under Ades’ fluid, flickering baton….But best of all was Ades’ own Tevot, scored for a huge orchestra (seven percussionists, no less), resonances of Mahler and Holst, and its textures and sonorities scything with accents. It ends with warm triumph, like Roy Harris’ Third Symphony of nearly a century ago.”
    Christopher Morley, The Birmingham Post, 12 June 2014

    “Adès’s return to Symphony Hall showed that his rapport with the orchestra is still there, and that his knack of devising programmes that are both attractive and innovative is as potent as ever.”
    Andrew Clements, The Guardian, 12 June 2014

    “This yoking together of the exquisite and the over-intense bore all the hallmarks of the big-framed, eagerly gesturing musician on the podium: Thomas Adès. He is an enthusiast for extremes, and this programme reflected that. Never did Ravel’s piece sound cosy, as it often does. Adès made it seem urgent and almost dangerous – as indeed it is, when Beauty has her conversation with the Beast.”
    Ivan Hewett, The Telegraph, 22 June

  • 17 Jul 13 BBC Proms ADÈS 'Totentanz' World Premiere
    Royal Albert Hall
    More info  

    “In the closing pages death and humanity seem to reach a truce in a passage of almost Straussian lyricism, Adès’s most frankly expressive music to date, but it proves only temporary and the work ends in the lowest depths of the orchestra, having worked its way downwards…The performance was wonderfully compelling, with the BBCSO revelling in the virtuoso challenges Adès sets them, and the soloists giving their roles an almost operatic vividness…Adès had begun with Britten’s Sinfonia da Requiem, unleashing its fury with frightening vividness, as if anticipating the dance of death that would come later.”
    Andrew Clements, The Guardian, 18 July 2013

    “…in a series of increasingly pretty after-echoes, the collateral damage is cleared away, and we find ourselves in a cleansed and beguiling sound-world which might have been created by Mahler in one of his serenely visionary moods…
    It makes huge demands on the baritone and mezzo-soprano who must carry the drama and hold their own against the percussion-heavy orchestra, but in Simon Keenlyside and Christianne Stotijn Tom Ades had struck gold: both made utterly convincing sense of their daunting melodic lines, often in grotesque duet: Keenlyside’s suggesting giant inexorability, and Stotijn’s a nightmarish torment. On the podium, Ades was able to bring out both the savagery and the beauty of his score, but I suggest that he doesn’t stop there: with a suitably Expressionist staging, this could make a very effective one-act opera.”
    Michael Church, The Independent, 18 July 2013

    “It was only a matter of time before Adès, British music’s Lord of the Dance, wrote a Totentanz, and the result achieves all the macabre giddiness you might expect, liberally laced with fragments of the Dies Irae planchaint…Totentanz is a major work, and one that has a natural place in the repertoire alongside the big orchestral song cycles and symphonies of the late German Romantics. Surely this will be one Proms premiere with a real afterlife.”
    Alexandra Coghlan, The Arts Desk, 18 July 2013

  • 15 Nov 12 Adès, Sibelius & Prokoviev Boston Symphony Orchestra
    Symphony Hall, Boston
    More info  

    “…the supremely gifted British composer-conductor-pianist led the first of three performances of a program featuring his own Genesis-inspired piano concerto alongside music of Prokofiev and Sibelius… Adès’s “In Seven Days” takes a more granular, street-level view of the birth of the world, distributing the seven days from the Genesis story into seven teeming movements, inspired more metaphorically than pictorially by the events they describe (”Chaos-Dark-Light,” “Separation of the waters into sea and sky,” etc.) A circular path is implied by the use of a passacaglia-like form, with the music at the end sending us back to the beginning, but the effect is still more of spiraling forward than any kind of eternal recurrence. Adès also plays ingeniously with layering music of multiple speeds, with the soloist and portions of the orchestra moving in and out of sync, passing each other like cars in different lanes on a highway. Like so much of Adès’s music, there is here both intellectual rigor and a sensuality connected with the mercurial surfaces of sound itself.”
    Jeremy Eichler, The Boston Globe, 16 November 2012

  • 23 Oct 12 ADÈS The Tempest
    Metropolitan Opera, New York
    More info  

    “At its London premiere, I thought “The Tempest” one of the most inspired, audacious and personal operas to have come along in years. I feel this even more strongly after the Met’s fantastical production… The main reason “The Tempest” has such power is its music….The music is…rendered with lacy lyrical writing and ethereal harmonies by the multiskilled Mr. Ades, who, by the way, drew a textured, glittering and suspenseful account of his opera from the great Met orchestra.”
    Anthony Tommasini, The New York Times, 24 October 2012

    “…the inspiring, presence of Adès in the pit.”
    Martin Bernheimer, Financial Times, 24 October 2012

    “In Adès’ adaptation, which was premiered at Covent Garden in 2004, the 41-year-old English composer provides both, along with sharp psychological insight, humor, magic, and a lingering air of melancholy. Shot through with the archaic beauty of Meredith Oakes’ libretto and brought to life in a dazzling and thought-provoking production by Robert Lepage, The Tempest is one of the most satisfying operas to blow onto the stage of the Met in years.”
    Corinna da Fonseca-Wollheim, The Classical Review, 24 October 2012

    “British composer Thomas Ades has written a magical score for “The Tempest,” his setting of Shakespeare’s tale of revenge and reconciliation…And it sounded glorious Tuesday night when the Metropolitan Opera presented it for the first time with a strong cast and the composer himself conducting.
    Ades wrote the work on commission for the Royal Opera House in London, which premiered it to acclaim in 2004. It’s a compact piece, barely two hours of music, but profoundly dense and intricate in the way it manages through shifting melody, rhythm and orchestral texture to recreate the world of the play in all its tumult and richness.
    The score, by turns dissonant and lyrical, frenzied and calm, is filled with memorable passages of striking originality. Among them: the turbulent opening storm scene, when the exiled magician Prospero shipwrecks his enemies; a haunting aria in which the half-savage Caliban describes the sounds of the island to which he is rightful heir; a duet tinged with wonder for Prospero’s daughter Miranda and her newfound love Ferdinand; a soaring, lyrical quintet for five of the principals in the final scene. And Ades has made the role of the spirit Ariel a tour de force for coloratura soprano, giving her a vocal line that hovers much of the time well above high C…
    The Met season is only a month old, but it’s safe to say “The Tempest” will be remembered as one of its musical highlights.”
    Mike Silverman, Associated Press, 24 October 2012

  • 26 Apr 12 BARRY The Importance of Being Earnest
    Barbican Centre & Symphony Hall, Birmingham
    More info  

    “It’s all ferociously difficult to sing and play, but the performance under Adès seemed staggeringly good.”
    Andrew Clements, The Guardian, 27 April 2012

    “Thomas Adès conducted the virtuoso Birmingham Contemporary Music Group with panache…”
    Rupert Christiansen, The Telegraph, 27 April 2012

    “… the mercurial interplay between voices and instruments, superbly sustained here by the conductor Thomas Adès.”
    Richard Morrison, The Times, 29 April 2012

  • 27 Feb 12 Queen Elizabeth Hall, London
    Britten Sinfonia
    More info  

    “An ingenious programme linking Adès to François Couperin, via Ravel’s Tombeau and Stravinsky’s two Suites for Small Orchestra, it communicated a deep-rooted, unshakeable joy. It wasn’t the kind of transient euphoria that comes from having been thrilled, cajoled or even simply bowled over by the talent and enthusiasm of the playing (though these were part of it – one expects nothing less from this inspirational orchestra), but a more lasting emotion, the kind that affects our sense of how, and who, we are.”
    Guy Dammann, The Guardian, 29 February 2012

  • 22 Feb 12 Alice Tully Hall, New York
    Britten Sinfonia
    More info  

    “This acclaimed British ensemble presented an imaginative program conceived and conducted by the composer Thomas Adès, whose skills as a pianist were also on display. It was worth the wait.…This appearance was part of the orchestra’s “Concentric Paths” tour, the title being that of Mr. Adès’s exhilarating 2005 violin concerto, featured in the tour. This 20-minute work in three movements explores circular patterns in which spiraling, sometimes frenzied violin riffs coalesce into long spans of breathless, propulsive orchestral wildness…It began with Mr. Adès’s performance on piano of a Couperin harpsichord piece, “Les Baricades Mistérieuses” (“The Mysterious Barricades”), all undulant contrapuntal lines and flowing filigree. Mr. Adès played with milky impressionist textures while bringing out crucial voices and harmonic shifts. Then he conducted five players from the orchestra in his unconventional arrangement of the piece, complete with bass clarinet. Mr. Adès teases out clashing dissonances and jerky rhythmic interplay from the original.… The first half ended with Mr. Adès conducting a refreshingly articulate and colorful performance of Ravel’s “Tombeau de Couperin,” a suite of four pieces that lightly evoke the style, dance forms and idiom of Couperin in plush music that is pure Ravel…The performance of Mr. Adès’s formidable concerto, which ended the program, drew a deserved ovation…”
    Anthony Tommasini, The New York Times, 23 February 2012

  • 20 Feb 12 West Road Concert Hall, Cambridge
    Britten Sinfonia
    More info  

    “Tonight in New York the Britten Sinfonia makes its American debut. It should be a triumph. I can’t imagine a finer demonstration of its quintessential qualities — virtuoso musicianship and a gloriously imaginative choice of repertoire, soloists and conductors — than this programme.
    Thomas Adès was the centre of it, as conductor and composer. But as so often with this orchestra, one thing led quirkily to another. Adès has long been fascinated by the Baroque composer Couperin, so the concert began not with the orchestra, but with him playing Couperin’s enigmatically named keyboard piece, Les baricades mistérieuses, on the piano — the mesmerically recurring harmonic sequences made all the more mistérieuses, it must be said, by Adès’s blurry pedalling.
    That led to his marvellously lugubrious arrangement of the same piece for a quintet of low instruments, followed by his Three Studies from Couperin in which the Frenchman’s originals are treated more freely and with a scintillating ear for instrumental combinations. The first is shadowy and baritonal; the second an ecstatic exercise in pointillism; the third a poised French overture given a macabre twist by melodramatic drums.
    It was daring of Adès to follow that with another master orchestrator’s homage to the same composer: Ravel’s Le Tombeau de Couperin. But his own music lost nothing by the comparison, though the Ravel was played with fleet-fingered exuberance, not least by the oboist Nicholas Daniel, the new recipient of the Queen’s Medal for Music.
    The second half was just as stimulating. The Finnish violinist Pekka Kuusisto, probably the most engaging maverick in classical music today, appeared once to give a startlingly eerie account of Stravinsky’s Airs du rossignol and Marche chinoise, again to supply the piano part in the orchestra’s aptly grotesque romp through the same composer’s Suites Nos 1 and 2 for Small Orchestra; and a third time as a superbly characterful soloist in Adès’s own violin concerto, Concentric Paths. Written in 2005, it’s a fabulous piece: seemingly free-wheeling yet utterly cogent, with elegiac reminiscences of many things interlaced with baleful gestures and stratospheric lyricism for the soloist. If you can’t get to the Lincoln Centre in New York tonight, catch it in Norwich on Saturday, or London (and live on Radio 3) on Monday.”
    Richard Morrison, The Times, 22 February 2012

  • 17 Feb 12 ADÈS Polaris UK Premiere New York Philharmonic Orchestra
    Barbican Centre, London
    More info  

    “The pin-point accuracy of the orchestra’s sound was ideal for Thomas Adès’s Polaris, given its UK premiere on Friday. I was bracing myself for its innocent musical-box beginning to build into an alarming and almost mad complexity, which is what usually happens in Adès’s music. In fact, the music never lost its air of wide‑eyed wonder, even at the biggest moments.
    You might say this was fitting for a piece that mused on stars, and the way they guide sailors to their destination. But what about the human aspect of this image? Stars get obscured, sailors become lost, ships go down. The music stayed aloof from all that, floating in beautiful abstraction, and ending in a too-easy affirmation.”
    Ivan Hewett, The Telegraph, 20 February 2012

  • 15 Jan 12 Adès and Mahler Barbican Centre, London
    London Symphony Orchestra
    More info  

    “Full concert regalia, enthusiastic conducting, trim facial hair: Thomas Adès seems to appear more like Henry Wood every day. Not that the venerated Proms founder appears to loom over his music, though Adès’s range of reference as a composer is wide enough, both in subject and style. This tumultuous concert with the London Symphony Orchestra used a platform full of beavering musicians to duplicate the world’s biblical Creation.
    Tevot (from 2007) is an immensely- powerful meditation on the Earth as our hearth and home, a safe haven in a chaotic cosmos. It was all very humbling. Adès’s command of a large orchestra’s resources is supreme: in building and executing a symphonic argument there’s not a living composer to top him. Tevot alone gives proof enough with its masterful mix of continuity and disruption. During its voyaging the heavens are hit, the sea bottom scraped; then, eventually, against superfine strings, the music settles into a winding melody, comforting as a cradle, safely carrying its precious charge like Moses’ reed basket or Noah’s Ark.
    The LSO, immaculately drilled and polished, guided us with equal safety — as they did earlier through Adès’s slightly later In Seven Days (2008). Stripped for once of Tal Rosner’s video component (six screens of pulsing waves, circles, blobs and spindles), the musical tapestry of shifting patterns easily survived as a vital, stand-alone concert piece.Nicolas Hodges, the piano soloist, masterfully threaded his way from chaos to living creatures. Adès, too, gave it his all, as he does every piece that he conducts: big gestures, big grins, with every dynamic jolt and emotional shiver felt in the bones.Placed alongside these peaks, the programme’s other items could only shrivel. Hidd’n Blue, four-and-a-half minutes from the young Spanish-born Francisco Coll (Adès’s only composition pupil to date) still swirled and juddered with an exuberant orchestral imagination, a good portent for the composer’s future.”

    Geoff Brown, The Times, 16 January 2012

Awards

Royal Philharmonic Society large-scale composition award for Asyla (1997)
Grawemeyer Award for Asyla (1999)
Ernst von Siemens Composers’ Prize for Arcadiana (1999)
Royal Philharmonic Society large-scale composition award for The Tempest (2004)
Royal Philharmonic Society large-scale composition award for Tevot (2007)
CD of The Tempest (Royal Opera House, EMI) – Contemporary category Gramophone Awards (2010)
British Composer Award for The Four Quarters (2012)
DVD of The Tempest (Metropolitan Opera) won :
Diapason d’Or de l’année (2013)
Best Opera recording (2014 Grammy Awards)
Music DVD Recording of the Year (2014 ECHO Klassik Awards)
Léonie Sonning Music Prize (2015)

Interviews and Media

The New York Times – Interview with Anthony Tommasini – August 2016
The Guardian – Interview with Tom Service about “The Exterminating Angel” – July 2016
Seen & Heard International – Interview on “The Exterminating Angel” – July 2016
The Guardian – A guide to Thomas Adès’s music – October 2012
Libération – Interview with Thomas Adès – June 2012~
The Times – Interview with Thomas Adès – 16 February 2011
Please click here to listen to “Creatures of the Land”, from Thomas Adès’ “In Seven Days”