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Kaija Saariaho: Graal Theatre, Solar, Etc / Lintu, Et Al

Release Date: 09/24/2002 
Label:  Ondine   Catalog #: 997   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Kaija Saariaho
Performer:  John Storgĺrds
Conductor:  Hannu Lintu
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Avanti Chamber Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 4 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

The music of Kaija Saariaho certainly does not lack for seriousness or haughty purpose: the works on this disc are "about" obscure French poetry, the sun, and the northern lights. If these sound like pretentious conceits, take heart: the music is great! Saariaho can create an active surface, dizzy with motion and direction, and yet she never uses this construct in an effort to compensate for a lack of substance. Her work is atonal, but not without points of reference: there is plenty to grab onto here. She can create loud music that is neither brutal nor excessive, and genuinely fast music that is neither furious nor just a swirl of nausea-inducing filigree. And she never rests on the
Read more laurels of complexity for its own sake.

The chamber orchestra piece Solar, the disc's high point, begins with a completely arresting, aggressive sonority (in no small part due to the tight and stylistically appropriate playing of Hannu Lintu and the Avanti! Chamber Orchestra), which is worked out for 17 spellbinding minutes in an engrossing and unpredictable fashion, bearing up to nothing short of contrapuntal wizardry. Her capacity for drama is uncanny; the piece never goes where you think it will, yet it always makes sense. Lichtbogen, Saariaho's paean to the northern lights, is an early piece that involves live electronics--but again, do not let this put you off. Even if you are no lover of tape music, Saariaho uses it in such an idiomatic and integral fashion that you might not even notice it--no bleeps or blurps, but rather a sonic expansion of the orchestra. It is like a glorious 16-minute-long seethe.

Recently, Sony issued a recording of Graal théâtre, Saariaho's violin concerto, with Gidon Kremer as soloist. His rendition was vast and over-expansive, not really right for the piece, and his own sound seemed more precious and important in the mix than the success of the work itself--a star treatment that detracted from the music. Here soloist John Storgårds nails it. His tone is vigorous enough but it's also light and willing to blend. Together, he and the ensemble delve into this two-movement musical edifice and imbue it with the right sort of fire, knowing when the soloist belongs at the fore and when he ought to become an equal part of the ensemble.

--Daniel Felsenfeld, ClassicsToday.com
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Works on This Recording

Graal Théâtre by Kaija Saariaho
Performer:  John Storgĺrds (Violin)
Conductor:  Hannu Lintu
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Avanti Chamber Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1994/1997; Paris, France 
Date of Recording: 10/2001 
Venue:  Studio M2, YLE, Finland 
Length: 63 Minutes 37 Secs. 
Solar by Kaija Saariaho
Conductor:  Hannu Lintu
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Avanti Chamber Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1993 
Lichtbogen by Kaija Saariaho
Conductor:  Hannu Lintu
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Avanti Chamber Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1985-1986; Finland 
Notes: This performance utilizes a pre-recorded tape. 

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