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Du Cristal a La Fume / Nymphea / Sept Papillons

Kaija Saariaho , Kronos Quartet , Esa-Pekka Salonen , Los Angeles Philharmonic Audio CD
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Performer: Kronos Quartet, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Los Angeles Philharmonic
  • Orchestra: Kaija Saariaho
  • Audio CD (August 24, 2004)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Ondine
  • ASIN: B0002D9E48
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #205,885 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

1. Du cristal, for orchestra: Du cristal
2. Nymphea (Jardin secret III), for string quartet & electronics
3. Sept Papillons, for solo cello: Papillon I: Dolce, leggiere, libero
4. Sept Papillons, for solo cello: Papillon II: Leggiere, molto espressivo
5. Sept Papillons, for solo cello: Papillon III: Calmo, con tristezza
6. Sept Papillons, for solo cello: Papillon IV: Dolce, tranquillo
7. Sept Papillons, for solo cello: Papillon V: Lento, misterioso
8. Sept Papillons, for solo cello: Papillon VI: Sempre poco nervoso, senza tempo
9. Sept Papillons, for solo cello: Papillon VII: Molto espressivo, energico

Editorial Reviews

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Format:Audio CD
The several pieces by Kaija Saariaho on this Ondine reissue were written mainly in the early 1990s, when she was still concerned with timbre--recent Saariaho is more melodically inclined, with disappointing results. Each is performed by an all-star lineup, with Salonen leading the Los Angeles Philharmonic on the two orchestral pieces, Kronos Quartet on "Nymphea", and great Finnish cellist Anssi Kartunnen performing "Sept Papillions" (just one of the several works Saariaho wrote with him in mind).

"Du cristal" (1990) and "...a la fumee" (1991) for orchestra were Saariaho's first creation for large ensemble and, as their titles suggest, are closely related. In the first piece, the orchestra works mainly in unison in creating crescendos and diminuendos of great proportions, while percussion bubbles on the surface. The last sound of "Du cristal" is a cello trill played sul ponticello, which becomes the first sound of "...a la fumee". In this second work, the addition of two soloists--flute and cello--and live electronics disrupts the uniformity of sound, resulting in the "smoke" of the title. While the first piece is especially reminiscent of Ligeti's "Atmospheres", the richness of harmony can be closely compared to the style Magnus Lindberg was discovering around the same time, but less kinetic and slower-moving.

"Nymphea" for string quartet and electronics (1987) was written for the Kronos Quartet and is an example of early Saariaho. While the quartet performs, electronics are used to broaden the sounds mere moral instrumentalists are capable of, and contrasts, as the composer explains, "limpid, delicate textures with violent, shattering masses of sound.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars From crystal into smoke... June 22, 2005
Format:Audio CD
Though Saariaho studied computer composition technology at Boulez's IRCAM, her music sounds more like Ligeti than Boulez. In fact, "Du cristal" sounds quite a bit like "Atmospheres," a static piece of shifting, dissonant chords. Rolling, pounding tympani and bells give it a richer texture than Ligeti's sparse and eerie works from the early 1960s. The monolithic blocks of sound and crescendos also reflect the rough-hewn aesthetic of Xenakis. The second part of the diptych, "...a la fumee," is the high point of this disc -- flute and cello emerge from the crystalline structure, and weave an enchanting labyrinth.

The last piece, "Nymphea," is a string quartet with electronics, commissioned by and performed by the Kronos Quartet. Compared with the version recorded a couple of years later by the Arditti Quartet (on From Scandinavia: Music of Lindberg, Saariaho & Tiensuu -- see my review), this is a brash, "rock" reading. I prefer the more subtle Arditti interpretation, but that might be because I heard it first.

This is superb modern music, part of the uncompromising vision of the post-war avant-garde, combining Saariaho's Finnish roots with the French stream she has joined since relocating to Paris in the early Eighties. She studied with Grisey, and her music has clear affinities with Tristan Murail as well, the other main spectralist composer.

This is a reissue of a 1993 Ondine disc (see my review) -- the only addition is the fine cello solo piece "Sept Papillons" (8'), played by Anssi Karttunen.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Capturing the Sounds of Space and Water and Clouds November 1, 2005
Format:Audio CD
Kaija Saariaho continues to enhance our contemporary music scene with compositions that incorporate the finest of orchestration of traditional instruments combined with the still nascent classical music manipulations of electronic music. Few do this as well as she.

'Du Cristal...À la Fumée' are separate works in time but play so beautifully together they seem to be a continuum. There are wondrous masses of sound created by closely spacing pitches within orchestral choirs, a technique that while not new, in Saariaho's talented hands seem to go beyond even the once avant-garde compositions of Ligeti and Messiaen and Lindberg and find a tonal range that for once treats sound clusters as progressive linear music. The results are overwhelmingly beautiful. In the hands of her close friend and fellow composer - Esa-Pekka Salonen - and the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the complex works feel genuinely transparent.

Included on this CD is a work written for the Kronos Quartet - 'Nymphéa' - which as a work for strings alone could easily be transposed to full orchestra, but instead Saariaho has created an intimate work for quartet and electronic enhancement. The marriage between traditional instruments and the augmentation by electronic means is seamless and lifts the work to new heights of creativity. The final work here is a piece for solo cello - 'Sept Papillions' - and virtually flutters about in keeping with its title. The fine soloist is another Saariaho fellow musician, Finnish cellist Anssi Kartunnen, and is able to move among these miniature works with great technical facility and great beauty. Highly Recommended. Grady Harp, November 05
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