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The Vienna Philharmonic Performs Anders Hillborg’s Peacock Tales in Version for Soprano Saxophone

Sep. 26, 2022

The soprano saxophone version of Anders Hillborg’s clarinet concerto Peacock Tales (1998-2001) was unveiled by the Vienna Philharmonic at the Lucerne Festival on September 7. Valentine Michaud played the solo part and the orchestra was conducted by Esa-Pekka Salonen. The concerto was presented in its 16-minute Millenium version (2000).

Peacock Tales is one of Anders Hillborg’s most playful and popular works, with its various versions receiving over 100 performances worldwide, from conductors including Gustavo Dudamel, Osmo Vänskä, Sakari Oramo, and James Gaffigan. Its original incarnation saw clarinetist Martin Fröst performing the piece in a mask, with highly theatrical dance and mime elements. Its title reflects the self-conscious virtuosity and flamboyance of the dazzling solo part; The Göteborgsposten noted that as the piece unfolds “a kind of commedia dell'arte play gradually crystallises, with the various characters portrayed by the same person…It is classy and humorous at the same time” (Magnus Haglund).

Additionally, two new works by Hillborg premiered recently. On September 14, the Ensemble Intercontemporain and Matthias Pintscher gave the world premiere of Hillborg’s Skysong. Commissioned by Vincent Meyer for Ensemble Intercontemporain, the 22-minute piece for chamber orchestra was performed at the at the Cité de la musique in Paris. On August 25, members of the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra – commissioners of Peacock Tales – will premiere the Baltic Sea Fanfare for brass, timpani, and tam-tam. Commissioned by Sveriges Radio for the 20th anniversary of the Baltic Sea Festival, the short fanfare will be conducted by Gudrun Dahlkvist.

To learn more about Anders Hillborg, visit:

Anders Hillborg 
Peacock Tails (1998-2001/2021)
concerto for saxophone and orchestra

Skysong (2022)
for chamber orchestra
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Baltic Sea Fanfare
for ensemble