Author Topic: Kaija Saariaho (b. 1952)  (Read 13534 times)

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Offline Brewski

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Kaija Saariaho (b. 1952)
« on: April 02, 2008, 07:05:43 AM »
Just found out that Kaija Saariaho has won the Nemmers Prize (below), whose former recipients were John Adams (2004) and Oliver Knussen (2006). 

And realized we didn't have a thread on her, so this is a good reason to start one!  I admire her music very much.  Just last fall I heard The Crossing, the Philadelphia new music choir, in Tag des Jahrs (Day of the Years (2001) for choir and electronics, a beautiful work.

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KAIJA SAARIAHO WINS $100,000 2008 NEMMERS COMPOSITION PRIZE

EVANSTON, Ill. --- The Northwestern University School of Music today (April 2) announced that Finnish composer Kaija Saariaho is the 2008 winner of the $100,000 Michael Ludwig Nemmers Prize in Music Composition. The biennial award honors classical modern composers of outstanding achievement who have significantly affected the field of composition. Past winners include John Adams (2004) and Oliver Knussen (2006).

Saariaho was cited by the selection committee for “transforming avant-garde techniques into a world of luminous, shifting color and emotional depth, mirroring the human experience.”

As winner of the 2008 Nemmers Prize, Saariaho receives a cash award of $100,000 and during the 2009-10 season a performance of one of her works by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.  She also will be in residence at Northwestern University’s School of Music during the 2008-09 and 2009-10 academic years. Her first residency is scheduled for January 2009.

Kaija Saariaho said, “I am very honored to have received the Nemmers Prize. Awards of this rank are important because they recognize a composer’s life work and the great effort required to develop and deepen a musical style. I was especially happy to read the prize citation because it indicates that I have been successful in reaching some of my musical goals.”

Northwestern University School of Music Dean Toni-Marie Montgomery said, “Ms. Saariaho has extended both musical vocabulary and instrumental technique into a new language that is profoundly beautiful and highly personal. Our students and faculty look forward to welcoming her to the Evanston and Chicago communities.”

The anonymous, three-member Nemmers Prize committee that selected Saariaho comprised individuals of widely recognized stature in the international music community.

The Michael Ludwig Nemmers Prize in Musical Composition is made possible through a generous gift from the late Erwin E. Nemmers and Frederic E. Nemmers, who in 1994 enabled the creation of the Erwin Plein Nemmers Prize in Economics and the Frederic Esser Nemmers Prize in Mathematics, leading awards in those fields.
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Offline toledobass

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Re: Kaija Saariaho (b. 1952)
« Reply #1 on: April 02, 2008, 07:18:20 AM »
Another I've not heard any music from.  I've had my eye on this one for a while though:





Seem like a good place to start? 

Allan

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Re: Kaija Saariaho (b. 1952)
« Reply #2 on: April 02, 2008, 07:20:40 AM »
How "avant-garde" are we talking here?

Offline Brewski

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Re: Kaija Saariaho (b. 1952)
« Reply #3 on: April 02, 2008, 07:34:28 AM »
Allan, I've heard Sept Papillons live (for solo cello), but not heard that CD, but it looks like a fine enough introduction.  (Salonen is a huge champion of her work.)  You might also investigate Petals (1988) for cello and electronics, one of the first of her works I heard, and I gather by reputation, one of the works that put her on the map.  Here are some program notes for a recital by the cellist Anssi Karttunen.

Dave, you can listen to The Crossing do one of the four parts of Tag des Jahrs here.  Just checked the Finnish Music Information Center to see if they had any more samples, and didn't find any, but there are probably some short ones on Amazon. 

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Re: Kaija Saariaho (b. 1952)
« Reply #4 on: April 02, 2008, 07:37:32 AM »
Allan, I've heard Sept Papillons live (for solo cello), but not heard that CD, but it looks like a fine enough introduction.  (Salonen is a huge champion of her work.)  You might also investigate Petals (1988) for cello and electronics, one of the first of her works I heard, and I gather by reputation, one of the works that put her on the map.  Here are some program notes for a recital by the cellist Anssi Karttunen.

Dave, you can listen to The Crossing do one of the four parts of Tag des Jahrs here.  Just checked the Finnish Music Information Center to see if they had any more samples, and didn't find any, but there are probably some short ones on Amazon. 

--Bruce

Thanks. Will listen at the next opportunity.

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Re: Kaija Saariaho (b. 1952)
« Reply #5 on: April 02, 2008, 07:51:02 AM »
Having attended the world premiere of Du Cristal (and being there for all four performances) which was my first exposure to Saariaho, Du Cristal remain my favorite Saariaho work. Too bad I was not in town for the premiere of A la Fumee, which was part two of the work, given a couple of years later. So I grabbed the recording as soon as it came out.

Offline not edward

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Re: Kaija Saariaho (b. 1952)
« Reply #6 on: April 02, 2008, 07:51:21 AM »
Another I've not heard any music from.  I've had my eye on this one for a while though:





Seem like a good place to start? 

Allan
That was where I started with Saariaho, albeit on the original issue sans papillons. The three main works on the disc are all comparatively early ('80s all, I think) and more modernistic, less melodic than her more recent work. That disc or either of these two ones with more recent compositions seems to me to be a good introduction to her work:



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Re: Kaija Saariaho (b. 1952)
« Reply #7 on: April 02, 2008, 07:56:35 AM »
I enjoyed that clip. Thanks.

Offline Brewski

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Re: Kaija Saariaho (b. 1952)
« Reply #8 on: April 02, 2008, 07:58:35 AM »
Having attended the world premiere of Du Cristal (and being there for all four performances) which was my first exposure to Saariaho, Du Cristal remain my favorite Saariaho work. Too bad I was not in town for the premiere of A la Fumee, which was part two of the work, given a couple of years later. So I grabbed the recording as soon as it came out.

I love it..."all four performances"...now that's the way to get to know a piece!  I gather you liked it!

And I haven't heard that recent Ondine recording, edward, which looks quite good.

I enjoyed that clip. Thanks.

Oh cool!  I wish they'd posted the entire piece, but during the final section, the building's fire alarm went off--amusingly, sounding somewhat like the electronics, so it took a few seconds for everyone to realize what was happening.

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Re: Kaija Saariaho (b. 1952)
« Reply #9 on: April 02, 2008, 08:18:52 AM »
I love it..."all four performances"...now that's the way to get to know a piece!  I gather you liked it!

I have a policy of attending all performances of a world premiere if I liked it or at least feel that it was at least interesting. I did so with several works, which also includes Kullervo, the opera.

Offline Brewski

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Re: Kaija Saariaho (b. 1952)
« Reply #10 on: April 02, 2008, 08:21:38 AM »
I have a policy of attending all performances of a world premiere if I liked it or at least feel that it was at least interesting. I did so with several works, which also includes Kullervo, the opera.

 0:)

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Offline Brewski

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Re: Kaija Saariaho (b. 1952)
« Reply #11 on: June 29, 2009, 08:45:17 AM »
Here is an interview with Saariaho, prior to ENO's new production of L'amour de loin, which opens July 4.  And there is a new studio recording coming out on July 27 (on Harmonia Mundi), conducted by Kent Nagano.

Anyone seeing the new production?  Would love to hear some thoughts on it, if so.

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Re: Kaija Saariaho (b. 1952)
« Reply #12 on: July 02, 2009, 11:52:44 AM »
I have the Ondine without the solo cello piece.

As far as I'm concerned, that is the place to start (then get the Salonen). If you're a newbie, you might want to stay away from that other Ondine disc with all the solo pieces with electronics. It's pretty bare, IMO. For me, the first Ondine disc may be all the Saariaho I'll ever need, but the Salonen disc is tempting.

But I really dig that Nymphea with the Kronos. I have the Arditti also, but the Kronos own this piece: the best SQ with electronics I know.

Offline Mirror Image

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Re: Kaija Saariaho (b. 1952)
« Reply #13 on: May 28, 2011, 09:03:58 PM »
Saariaho belongs in the same group as Finnish composers like Salonen and Lindberg who, in my view, were bound and determined to break Finnish music from the Sibelius mold. In my opinion, they have succeeded in doing this so far. Saariaho comes from a different view than Lindberg and Salonen, but is no less interesting than the these two. I'm still in the midst of rediscovering Saariaho's music as I have four of her recordings (on Ondine). I'm looking to get her opera L'amour de loin at some point. Can anyone shed some light on this opera?
« Last Edit: May 28, 2011, 09:08:58 PM by Mirror Image »
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Offline springrite

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Re: Kaija Saariaho (b. 1952)
« Reply #14 on: May 28, 2011, 09:37:53 PM »
I'm looking to get her opera L'amour de loin at some point. Can anyone shed some light on this opera?

I have the DVD of this opera. It is a strange opera in the sense that it is mostly recitatives with hardly any singing. So it is more like a atomspheric painting or mood painting. The storyline, if you can call that, hardly moves at all.
I still like it somewhat.
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Re: Kaija Saariaho (b. 1952)
« Reply #15 on: May 28, 2011, 09:54:12 PM »
I have the DVD of this opera. It is a strange opera in the sense that it is mostly recitatives with hardly any singing. So it is more like a atomspheric painting or mood painting. The storyline, if you can call that, hardly moves at all.
I still like it somewhat.

Hardly any singing? PERFECT! Now that's my kind of opera! ;) Thanks for the feedback, I'll probably get Nagano's recording on Harmonia Mundi sometime in the future.
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Offline lescamil

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Re: Kaija Saariaho (b. 1952)
« Reply #16 on: May 28, 2011, 10:35:09 PM »
I have the DVD of this opera. It is a strange opera in the sense that it is mostly recitatives with hardly any singing. So it is more like a atomspheric painting or mood painting. The storyline, if you can call that, hardly moves at all.
I still like it somewhat.

Part of what makes the DVD ineffective is the production. The camera angles are terrible (a common flaw in modern opera productions on DVD). However, I really like the opera. The atmospheric nature of it is to be expected, for that is what much of Saariaho's music is like. There isn't much of a storyline, but it is a piece to just let yourself be immersed in without thinking too much about the plot. It is not my favorite work by Saariaho. I quite like her orchestral work Orion, and this is, in my opinion, the best place to start for her work. Calling it something like 1920-1930s modernism is a bit of a stretch, though. From examining it, I would say that it is more like polished, pretty, and colorful 1960s-1970s sound mass composition, and what's there not to like about that?! One qualm about the work is that I think it needs another, better mixed recording. The score is rich and full of detail, but in the recording it all comes out as a wash of sound and a lot is lost. Having the score in hand, I was able to strain myself to hear certain things that I would have never guessed were in the recording. I am only going off the Eschenbach recording, though. I have not heard the other(s) yet, but I am working on that. Another orchestral work, the brief Asteroid 4179: Toutatis, perhaps encapsulates her style in the neatest, smallest package possible. As far as her vocal music goes, if you don't want to start with L'Amour de Loin (I frankly don't recommend starting with that, in general), start with Château de l'âme (for soprano, female choir, and orchestra) or Mirage (a sort of double concerto for cello and soprano). Both are beautiful, challenging works. The early electronic works haven't quite clicked for me yet, honestly. I still come back to them on occasion.
« Last Edit: May 28, 2011, 10:42:20 PM by lescamil »
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Offline Mirror Image

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Re: Kaija Saariaho (b. 1952)
« Reply #17 on: August 12, 2011, 06:00:15 PM »
Good news on the Saariaho front: new works, soon to be released by - who else? - ONDINE - including the Igmar Bergman-inspired Laterna Magic that Welser-Most will be performing live next season:



Yes, Kaija Saariaho left Finand at a young age in order not to live under the shadow of Sibelius - and ended up composing pieces that display  distinctive personality as well as renew the musical life of Finland - and of the rest of Europe as well.

Excellent, I'll be purchasing this when it comes out.
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Re: Kaija Saariaho (b. 1952)
« Reply #18 on: August 12, 2011, 08:09:57 PM »
All three of those pieces are excellent. Anyone who didn't see the video of the masterful Kari Kriikku performing the clarinet concerto missed out. That piece is quite a varied virtuoso showpiece. I'll definitely be purchasing that disk when it comes out. It will be nice to hear a polished studio recording of these works, for my only experiences with these pieces is with live performances of varying quality.
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Re: Kaija Saariaho (b. 1952)
« Reply #19 on: December 07, 2011, 05:05:29 AM »
You might enjoy seeing Terra Memoria and some of the other videos on this site.
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