KFJC 89.7FM
Album Review

Saariaho, Kaija – “Graal Theatre / Solar / Lichtbogen” – [Ondine]

cujo   6/16/2008   A Library

Welcome to the fiercely delicate world of Saariaho???s music. This is KFJC???s first addition of the Finn???s music (and our first from Ondine). Given her love of mixing acoustics and electronics nurtured by an early 1980s stint at IRCAM, there may be more worthy additions yet to come. I believe it???s also our first add from a ???spectral??? composer.

Graal theatre. A violin concerto originally written for Gidon Kremer, so you know this is serious business. In this version, the violin part is intact and tackled by John Storgards, while the orchestra is pared down to chamber orchestra. I have heard Kaija giving a few of her works this kind of treatment, including the Nymphea quartet. Clearly, it makes the music more marketable. Anyhow, it???s a great piece and the tumultuous violin part engages well, especially in the 2nd part.

Solar. It???s beautiful, but nothing engaged me as I listened. Even the liner notes skip over it.

Lichtbogen. A work based on the results of computer analysis of a particular cello harmonic (this is the ???spectral??? element), but equally inspired by lichtbogen (Swedish for aurora borealis). It???s scored for nine musicians and live electronics, but the integration is practically seamless. There is alien beauty here, fragile and icy. The chiming glockenspiel stays with you long after the coda.

–Cujo, KFJC, June 2008

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