The Ondine recording with works for solo cello by Esa-Pekka Salonen and Kaija Saariaho presents powerful and straightforward interpretations by the US cellist Wilhelmina Smith. The tangled virtuosity in Salonen's YTA III (1986) would come better into its own in a concert situation, whereas his knock, breathe, shine (2010) gives a more collected impression.
The recording contains both composers' contributions to the Mystery Variations project, a series of works based on the Chiacona by Giuseppe Colombi (1635–1694) and given as a birthday present to cellist Anssi Karttunen in 2010. After Salonens's Sarabande per un coyote, the Colombi Chiacona serves as a gateway to another world: the frictional haze of overtones and organically emerging and vanishing phrases in Saariaho's Dreaming Chaconne, Petals (1988), and Sept papillons (2000). Spins and Spells (1997) stands out due to a scordatura tuning and the grating sonorities at the beginning.
SAARIAHO, SALONEN: Works for solo cello
Wilhelmina Smith (cello)
Ondine ODE 1294-2