Trans (2015) for harp and orchestra is the most recent of Kaija Saariaho’s solo concertos. The harp is a challenging solo instrument, not least because the idiomatic textures, such as arpeggios, may sound like clichés. However, Saariaho finds ways around this, in the mysteriously dusky middle movement (titled Vanité) at the latest.
Ciel d’hiver (2013) is an arrangement for smaller orchestra of the middle part of the orchestral triptych Orion from 2002. This is music of immense proportions, of starlight and bottomless darkness: sound masses travel through space in a constant organic movement, creating a magnificent impression.
The artistic level on the recording is thoroughly high, and the richness of the composer’s invention opens up new perspectives by every listening. This is especially true for True Fire (2014), a dark and dramatic song cycle for baritone and orchestra to a intriguing selection of texts by Ralph Waldo Emerson, Seamus Heaney, Mahmoud Darwish, and the Native American Tewa people
KAIJA SAARIAHO: True Fire, Trans, Ciel d’hiver
Gerald Finley, bass-baritone; Xavier de Maistre, harp; Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra, cond. Hannu Lintu
Ondine ODE 1309-2
The recording has been nominated at the 62nd Annual Grammy Awards.