Saariaho: Verblendungen; Jardin secret I; Laconisme de l’aile; … sah den Vögeln; NoaNoa

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COMPOSERS: Saariaho
LABELS: BIS
WORKS: Verblendungen; Jardin secret I; Laconisme de l’aile; … sah den Vögeln; NoaNoa
PERFORMER: Camilla Hoitenga (flute), etc; Finnish RSO/Esa-Pekka Salonen
CATALOGUE NO: CD-307 AAD/DDD Reissue
In a career that has included studies with Paavo Heininen in Helsinki, Brian Ferneyhough in Freiburg and work at the IRCAM studios, Kaija Saariaho’s muse ranges widely. Verblendungen, an evocation for tape and orchestra of the ‘process of being blinded or dazzled’ – expertly played by the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra – indicates the predominant nature of the composer’s style: slow background movement with more rapid activity fragmenting the surface. Much of her work relies on these broad gestures, perhaps a result of the Sibelian legacy, or indeed the forested expanses of Finland itself. The gradual evolution of ideas underlies nearly all the pieces in this ‘portrait’, though, as … sah den Vögeln shows, there is room for incident. Timbre is also at a premium, notably in Camilla Hoitenga’s committed performance of Laconisme de l’aile for solo flute. A fair few conventional contemporary poses are struck in the cause of 20th-century modernism, but there is certainly much here in this gathering of pieces that will fascinate and intrigue those interested in the repertoire of the last 25 years. Jan Smaczny

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