Het werk van Kaija Saariaho wordt regelmatig uitgevoerd door wereldberoemde orkesten, vanwege de originaliteit en het innovatieve karakter, maar ook vanwege de toegankelijkheid voor een breed publiek. In niet eerder uitgeprobeerde instrumentencombinaties en elektronische muziek creëert Saariaho fascinerende nieuwe klanken. Videokunst, de natuur, astronomie, het oude India, het Egyptisch Dodenboek en de poëzie van middeleeuwse troubadours dienen als inspiratiebron voor de Finse.
Sept Papillons was the first piece Saariaho wrote after her opera L’Amour de loin and it was partly written during the rehearsals of the opera in Salzburg. One can sense the desire to find a new world, which has nothing to do with the opera either in style or in language. From the metaphors of the opera which all have an eternal quality – love, yearning and death – she moved to a metaphor of the ephemeral: butterfly. Also, from the long time-spans of the opera she moved to these seven miniatures, which each seem to be studies on a different aspect of fragile and ephemeral movement that has no beginning or end.
An obstacle course for cellists? Or a moving evocation of a lost world? Saariaho’s most demanding solo work Spins and Spells was written for a cello competition in 1997 and is fascinating on account of its glassy sonorities. These are created by the advanced application of a technique called ‘scordatura’, in which harmonics are generated on retuned strings. The piece is a great challenge for the cellist, who often has to pitch harmonics that are extremely hard to find on the instrument.
A string trio is a fascinating ensemble. Even if its instruments come from the same family it magnifies the individual characters of each. When writing the trio, I was surprised how different it was to writing for a string quartet. In this piece, the three instruments all have different tasks and functions, they represent very different aspects of string playing. These tasks are sometimes very concrete: the violin tends to behave as an echo or reverberation, the viola creates new clouds next to the existing ones and the cello often has a function of a shadow to the upper instrumental lines. My ideas for this piece are about common textures; how to create one coherent texture – still complex and detailed – with individual lines. The four sections of the piece have their own colours and characters, and I leave it to the listener to imagine what kinds of clouds were their sources of inspiration.
“Why Cloud Trio? When composing this piece in the French Alps (Les Arcs), watching the big sky above mountains I realized once again how rich a metaphor a natural element can be: its state or shape is so recognizable, and yet it is always varied and rich in detail.”