Magazine article Gramophone

Trio Disc Continues Ondine's Survey of the Finnish Composer

Magazine article Gramophone

Trio Disc Continues Ondine's Survey of the Finnish Composer

Article excerpt

Saariaho

Cendres (a). Cloud Trio (b). Je sens un deuxieme coeur (c). Mirage (chamber version) (d). Serenatas (e) (d) Pia Freund sop (a) Mikael Helsvuo alto fl (b) Ernst Kovacic vn (bc) Steven Dann va (abcde) Anssi Karttunen vc (acde) Tuija Hakkila pf (e) Florent Jodelet perc Ondine (F) ODE1189-2 (77' * DDD)

Ondine's exploration of the luminescent sound world of Kaija Saariaho continues with five trios for various combinations. All are in her familiar fluttery-ecstatic vein, derived from late Scriabin by way of Lutosiawski and Crumb but with a harmonic sophistication and restraint that place her far above many contemporaries of whom much the same might be said.

Mirage is the chamber version of the mini-cantata to shaman texts already recorded in its orchestral guise (11/08); the two versions were composed in parallel and are equally haunting. Cloud Trio provokes comparisons with Ligeti and, notwithstanding its obvious evocative attractions, it did set me wondering whether the string trio medium is perhaps a little thin for Saariaho's purposes. Her natural idiom is all ripples, glides and shimmers, exploring resonances that become more potent when a piano or larger ensemble is involved.

This may be partly why I found my attention more consistently held by the mixed timbres of Cendres, with its asthmatic alto flute, and Je sens un deuxieme coeur.The title of the latter refers to a pregnant woman's sensation of a second heart in her body and the music is related conceptually to Saariaho's second opera, Adriana mater. Its frequently aggressive textures (the opera itself is set in a war zone) provide a welcome contrast to the relatively passive tone of the other pieces here. …

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