Thomas Adès’ Dante—a ballet score in three parts based on Dante Alighieri’s La Divina Commedia—was recorded by the Los Angeles Philharmonic conducted by Music & Artistic Director Gustavo Dudamel at a concert performance last spring at Walt Disney Concert Hall. Nonesuch Records releases the album, the work’s premiere audio recording, on April 21, 2023. Dante was first performed at the Royal Opera House as part of Wayne McGregor’s The Dante Project for the Royal Ballet, with the Orchestra of the Royal Opera House and with designs by visual artist Tacita Dean. In addition to the digital version, Nonesuch releases a collectable limited-edition two-LP vinyl edition of the album, featuring artwork by Dean and photography from the Royal Ballet’s performance; the artwork and photography are also in the CD packaging.
“In any new shortlist of great ballet scores by Tchaikovsky, Stravinsky, Bartók, Ravel, Prokofiev, Britten and Bernstein,” says the Los Angeles Times, “Dante must newly be included for its musical invention alone. There is not a second in its 88 minutes that doesn’t delight. All of it is unexpected and wanted.”
The piece’s three parts are “Inferno,” “Purgatorio,” and “Paradiso.” Section XII. of “Inferno,” The Thieves—devoured by reptiles, is available today and can be heard below. In speaking of “Inferno,” Adès called it “a grateful tribute to Franz Liszt, the composer of hell and demonic music.”
Dante is inspired by the alternately chilling and sunlit landscapes of La Divina Commedia. Written in the fourteenth century, this seminal Italian poem recounts an initiatory journey through hell, purgatory, and paradise. McGregor and Adès bring the medieval Christian fantasy to life with a narrative arc about a young woman named Beatrice who embodies a promise of love and hope.
Thomas Adès exemplifies a generation of composers who have drawn upon the long history of symphonic music but rethought those traditional forms with a postmodern eye and sometimes ironic distancing. Adès , a prodigious composer, conductor, and pianist, was born in London in 1971. His singular body of work is crowned by three critically acclaimed operas: Powder Her Face (1995), The Tempest (2004), and The Exterminating Angel (2016) as well as the ballet Dante (2019–20). The recipient of numerous awards, including the 2015 Léonie Sonning Music Prize and the 2000 Grawemeyer Award (for his 1997 orchestral work Asyla), Adès was Artistic Director of the Aldeburgh Festival for a decade and has conducted many of the world’s greatest orchestras, including Wiener Philharmoniker, Berliner Philharmoniker, the Los Angeles Philhamonic, the New York Philharmonic, and the London Symphony Orchestra. In 2016 he became the Boston Symphony Orchestra’s inaugural Artistic Partner; he premiered his Concerto for Piano and Orchestra with Kirill Gerstein as soloist with that orchestra in March 2019. He performs worldwide as a pianist, and coaches annually at the International Musicians Seminar, Prussia Cove.
Redefining what an orchestra can be, the Los Angeles Philharmonic (LA Phil) is as vibrant as Los Angeles, one of the world’s most open and dynamic cities. Led by Music & Artistic Director Gustavo Dudamel, this internationally renowned orchestra harnesses the transformative power of live music to build community, foster intellectual and artistic growth, and nurture the creative spirit. This is the fourth recent recording by the orchestra on Nonesuch: the others were the Louis Andriessen pieces The only one and Theatre of the World and Steve Reich’s Runner/Music for Ensemble and Orchestra. Additionally, the Los Angeles Philharmonic’s recordings of The Gospel According to the Other Mary and Must the Devil Have All the Good Tunes?, with Yuja Wang, released on Deutsche Grammophon, are included in last year’s John Adams Collected Works Nonesuch boxed set. Nonesuch also released an LA Phil recording of Adams’ Naive and Sentimental Music in 2002. The label most recently recorded the LA Phil’s January 2023 performances of Adams’ Girls of the Golden West, conducted by the composer.
Gustavo Dudamel is driven by the belief that music has the power to transform lives, to inspire, and to change the world. Through his dynamic presence on the podium and his tireless advocacy for arts education, Dudamel has introduced classical music to new audiences around the globe and has helped to provide access to the arts for countless people in underserved communities. He currently serves as the Music & Artistic Director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic and Music Director of the Opéra National de Paris and Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra. Dudamel’s bold programming and expansive vision led the The New York Times to herald the LA Phil as “the most important orchestra in America—period.”