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Kaija Saariaho: Émilie Suite; Quatre Instants; Terra Memoria

Album Summary

>Saariaho, Kaija : Quatre instants, for chamber orchestra
>Saariaho, Kaija : Terra Memoria, for orchestra
>Saariaho, Kaija : Émilie Suite, for soprano & orchestra
Performer Conductor Ensemble
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Composer

Notes & Reviews:

BBC Music Magazine, April 2015
Karen Vourc'h...is an eloquent advocate of the heigtened arioso, flexing into and out of speech...[in Terra Memoria] Marko Letonja controls Saariaho's single arc of quizzical and querulous transformations into a haunting meditation on memory itself.

Ondine's new release includes works written in the last decade by one of the most important Finnish contemporary composers, Kaija Saariaho (b. 1958). - Two of the works, the orchestral version of Quatre instants and Émilie Suite, feature the award-winning soprano Karen Vourc'h. Orchestre Philharmonique de Strasbourg is conducted by the orchestra's new Music Director, Marko Letonja. - Émilie Suite is a 25-minute work based on Saariaho's 80-minute monodrama Opera Émilie including three songs and two orchestral interludes from the Opera. - The Opera tells the dramatic story of a true historical character, Marquise Émilie du Châtelet (1706 - 1749), one of the earliest woman scientists, who was also a mathematician and a physician. - Quatre instant is one of Saariaho's vocal masterpieces, a song cycle in four movements. - The songs, which are based on texts written by Amin Maalouf for Kaija Saariaho, reflect various dimensions of love. - Terra Memoria is a work for string orchestra, originally commissioned by the Emerson String Quartet. This meditative work is dedicated "for those departed".

The Guardian, 15th January 2015
The atmosphere and pastel shades of the opera are preserved, but it's the song cycle on this disc, Quatre Instants, settings from 2002 of four poems by Maalouf, that shows off Saariaho's vocal writing more convincingly, with the voice of Karen Vourc'h wrapping itself around the tendrils of melody.

MusicWeb International, 27th March 2015
[Quatre instants] has a gleaming and glittering surface, with fine filigree work in which tuned percussion is prominent, while the voice soars and dips. One aspect of Saariaho's vocal writing is that the voice often merges with or hands over to an instrument, and is treated in some ways as if it were itself an instrument itself. The idiom is reminiscent of Szymanowski's orchestral song-cycles or Ravel's ShThTrazade and Saariaho's cycle can stand the comparison...this is a memorable disc and a valuable addition to Saariaho's growing discography.

American Record Guide, July/August 2015
Four Instants (2002) is a song cycle for soprano and orchestra based on steamy texts by Amin Maalouf, who collaborated with the composer on her opera L' Amour de Loin. Ms Saariaho's panting settings match the verse swimmingly, and Ms Vourc'h responds with ample erotic heat. Terra Memoria (2007, arr. 2009), originally written for the Emerson Quartet. It fulfills its purpose of general mourning for the dead. Emilie (2008-9) is a monodrama on the life of physicist and Newtonian translator Marquise Emilie du Chatelet (lover of Voltaire, among others). She was also a harpsichordist, and she pops up as such in the background. I would love to hear her in more standard repertoire of this type.



Reviews

Emotionally powerful
Opera is all about emotion. And Kaija Saariaho's milie Suite is an hour of raw emotion compressed into a 20-minute opera. milie du Chtelet was a French mathematician and physicist during the Age of Enlightenment. The opera focuses on a single evening as she struggles to complete her translation of Newton's "Principia Mathematica" while in the final stages of pregnancy. She's afraid childbirth will kill her (it did), and the conflict of emotions (love and fear) with scientific logic and order provides the inspiration for Saariaho's work.

The opera has but a single role, and soprano Karen Vourc'h fills it admirably. Her delivery of milie's inner thoughts is both thrilling and disturbing. If you want pretty arias, look elsewhere. If you want an authentic representation of a soul in crises, "milie Suite" delivers.

Also included on the disc are "Terra Memoria," an orchestral work that slowly appears out of the silence (this would be a great choice for an SACD recording), and the Quator Instants. The latter is a work originally written for soprano and piano, recast by Saariaho for soprano and orchestra. The lyricism of the work makes it a logical companion piece to the milie Suite.

Marko Letonja leads the Strasbourg Philharmonic Orchestra in sensitive and sure-footed performances of these works. Saariaho's music is all about the details, and Letonja and the SPO conjure up her delicate soundscapes seemingly at ease. An important addition to Saariaho's discography.
Submitted on 02/11/15 by RGraves321 
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Works Details

>Saariaho, Kaija : Quatre instants, for chamber orchestra
  • Performer: Karen Vourc'h
  • Conductor: Marko Letonja
  • Notes: Neugartheim-Ittlenheim Hall, France (01/12/2014-01/14/2014)
  • Running Time: 5 min. 28 sec.
  • Period Time: Contemporary
  • Written: 2002

>Saariaho, Kaija : Terra Memoria, for orchestra
  • Conductor: Marko Letonja
  • Notes: Cité de la musique de Strasboug, France (10/28/2013-10/29/2013)
  • Running Time: 17 min. 59 sec.
  • Period Time: Contemporary
  • Form: Orchestral
  • Written: 2009

>Saariaho, Kaija : Émilie Suite, for soprano & orchestra
  • Performer: Karen Vourc'h
  • Conductor: Marko Letonja
  • Notes: Neugartheim-Ittlenheim Hall, France (01/12/2014-01/14/2014)
  • Running Time: 32 min. 6 sec.
  • Period Time: Contemporary
  • Written: 2011