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Kaija Saariaho

Publisher: Chester Music

Terrestre (2002)
commissioned by Eleanor Eisenmenger in honour of Kaija Saariaho's 50th birthday
Chester Music Ltd
Small Ensemble (2-6 players)
Year Composed
10 Minutes
Solo Instrument(s)
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Programme Note
Kaija Saariaho Terrestre (2002)
Terrestre is a reworking of the second movement of the two-movement flute concerto dedicated to Camilla Hoitenga, Aile du songe (Wing of Dream). The titles of the two works derive from the collection of poems by Saint-John Perse, Oiseaux (Birds), which already served as a source of inspiration in the solo flute piece Laconisme de l’aile. The poet speaks of the birds’ flight and uses the rich metaphor of the bird to describe life’s mysteries through an abstract and multidimensional language.

Unlike Olivier Messiaen, Saariaho is more interested in the idea of the bird than in its singing. Terrestre falls into two parts. The first, Oiseau dansant (Dancing Bird), refers to an aboriginal tale in which a virtuosic dancing bird teaches a whole village how to dance. The second section, L’Oiseau, un satellite infime, is a synthesis of the previous parts of the concerto. In the poet’s words, the bird is a small satellite in a universal orbit. That poetic image brings to mind words that Saariaho wrote at the beginning of her career: "My wish is to go further, and deeper."

© 2003 by the Carnegie Hall Corporation

Sample Pages

It has never before been quite possible to say that a woman is among the most respected composers of her generation. But with the Finnish-born Kaija Saariaho it is finally true. High time, then, that the Philharmonia's easily digestible, free-entry Music of Today series should present a snapshot of her work. André de Ridder['s ...] clear conducting drove forward a programme pairing a work not previously heard in the UK with one of Saariaho's better-known scores. Terrestre, written three years ago, grew out of the flute concert Aile du Songe. Its two distinct sections both revel in high-pitched, ringing sonorities. In the first, the purrs and chirrups of the hyperactive flautist spur the other instruments into energetic motion; the second decelerates all this to a sense of intense stillness. With flautist Mario Caroli as an outstanding soloist, backed by four members of the Philharmonia, this new piece proved [...] intriguing.
Erica Jeal, The Guardian,09/06/2005
Lichtbogen, with its discreet electronic enhancement, which enchanted me twenty years ago when she was a new name, was preceded by Terrestre (a variant reduction of the second movement of her flute concerto) in which Mario Caroli, supported by exotic sounds drawn from a chamber group of two strings, piano and percussion, choreographed himself to depict 'a virtuoso dancing bird'. His consummate virtuosity encompassed simultaneous vocalising and he drew all eyes to his lunges, crouching low, springing up off the ground, even kicking one foot in the air whilst standing on the other, his flute sounding magical in the Festival Hall the while.
Peter Grahame Woolf,,08/06/2005
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