Kaija Saariaho – Alice in Lakeland

Finland is a large country with about five millions inhabitants. According to density of citizens the country takes 201st place in the total of 260 countries. If you are setting off to travel around, you hardly spot anyone. But surely you´ll be hunted by local spooks such as Näkii, Maahinen, Menninkäinen and as you go further into the land of never-ending lakes towards polar circle, you would listen to a special soundtrack in your head. It will sound like this.

Kaija Saariaho is a contemporary Finish composer that is highly appreciated by critics as well as listeners which is not very typical now. Next year she is sixty, she composed three operas and much more pieces, concerts for cello, violin etc.; she is also active in the area of connecting electronic music with instruments usually used in classical sphere.  But if you search YouTube, you find lot of interesting stuff that is hard to put in a box; let me recommend this series of Six japanese gardens. A single man with drums and tympanums.


The composer says that in her compositions she gets inspired by art and watching landscape. And that is exactly how her music feels; a bit like taking LSD, head in a north direction and no thinking of coming back.  How about this? In a discussion under this track one listener wrote:

1.) Get some small plants and give them ideal amounts of water and sunlight each day. Also, play them Saariaho’s music for them for 5 hours a day.

2.) All the plants will be dead within four months. I guaranteed it.
Maybe it is so. On the other hand no one says that life is a walk through a rose garden. The music is strange, but if you like reading Alice in Wonderland, you will sure be thrilled.

If Kaiji Saariaho got your attention, get her record. You will find a clarinet concert, an orchestra fantasy inspired by Ingmar Bergmann and a series of songs inspired by poems of the biggest Finish poet, Eino Leino.








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