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Kaija Saariaho

Publisher: Chester Music

From the Grammar of Dreams (1988)
commissioned by the Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival with funds provided by Yorkshire Arts
Text Writer
Sylvia Plath
Edition Wilhelm Hansen Helsinki
Solo Voices and 1-6 players
Year Composed
10 Minutes
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Programme Note
Kaija Saariaho From the Grammar of Dreams (1988)
The texts used in this piece come from two books by Sylvia Plath: there are excerpts of her only novel, The Bell Jar, and fragments of the poem "Paralytic" from the poetry collection Ariel. The texts are strong, dealing with life and death, escaping into madness, self-destruction and the fight against it. Nevertheless, the piece includes an evolution: the painful nightmare ends in daylight and life.

The emotional context of these texts, powerful in the extreme, led me to look for strict rules of musical organization, to contrast the emotional power.
However, these rules do not always proceed in a rational or combinatorial thinking, but rather in the manner of our dreams, where thoughts are transformed into visual images with their colours, juxtapositions,movements and directions. I have sought to operate in the same way by opening the text with two voices, and creating with them five different soundscapes.


  • Ensemble
    Avanti! Chamber Orchestra
    Petteri Salomaa, bass / Anu Komsi, soprano / Pia Komsi, soprano
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