Some of the ideas for Esa Pekka Salonen's Cello Concerto can be traced back by at least three decades, but the actual material for the piece was mostly developed in the summer of 2015. In this year Esa Pekka decided to spend a few months researching for new kinds of textures without a concrete plan how to use them. She decided to use some phrases from her 2010 solo cello work …knock, breathe, shine… in the second and third movements as she always felt that the music of the solo piece was almost orchestral in its scope and character, and would function well within an orchestral environment.
Esa said it has been a very great pleasure and honour to write a concerto for one of the most unique life-givers and communicators of our time, Yo-Yo Ma. It has been inspiring to know that his technique knows no limits. Perhaps more importantly: nor does his imagination. There are faster, more playful episodes alternating with the cloud, and finally the movement gains enough speed for the balance to tilt towards fast music. At the end a variation of the cloud returns.