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Kaija Saariaho

Publisher: Chester Music

Je sens un deuxième coeur (2003)
commissioned by The Carnegie Hall Corporation
Work Notes
I. I reveal my skin (Je dévoile ma peu) II. Open up, fast (Ouvre-moi, vite) III. In the dream, she waited (Dans le rêve, elle l'attendait) IV. I must come in (Il faut que j'entre) V. I feel a second heart beating close to mine (Je sens un deuxième coeur qui bat tout près du mien)
Chester Music Ltd
Small Ensemble (2-6 players)
Year Composed
15 Minutes
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Programme Note
Kaija Saariaho Je sens un deuxième coeur (2003)
Je sens un deuxième coeur (Another heart beats)

1. Je dévoile ma peau (I unveil my body)
2. Ouvre-moi, vite! (Open up to me!)
3. Dans le rêve, elle l’attendait (In her dream, she was waiting)
4. Il faut que j’entre (Let me in)
5. Je sens un deuxième coeur qui bat tout près du mien (I feel a second

My original idea was to write musical portraits of the four characters in the opera, but when I began reworking the material in the context of chamber music, concentrating on developing the ideas to fit the three instruments of my trio, the piece grew further from the opera.
Compositionally, I started from concrete, high profile ideas and advanced towards abstract, purely musical concerns. So, for example, the title of the first section, Je dévoile ma peau, became a metaphor: the musical material introduced was orchestrated to reveal the individual characters of the three instruments and their interrelations. The second and fourth parts both start from ideas of physical violence.

In the context of this trio the violence has turned into two studies on instrumental energy.
Part three is a colour study in which the three identities are melded into one complex sound object.

The last section brings us to the thematic starting point of my opera, again very physical: the two hearts beating in a pregnant woman’s body. I am fascinated by the idea of the secret relationship between a mother and an unborn child. Musically, the two heartbeats and their constantly changing rhythmic polyphony have already served as an inspiration in my music; now the connections between the the two minds added another layer of communication.

These ideas guided the musical development how to share the intense dually-constructed material among the three trio instruments and to let it grow within their specific characters. Finally the title became also a metaphor for music making: isn’t it with the ‘other’ we want to communicate through our music? As written over the last movement, Doloroso, sempre con amore.

Kaija Saariaho 2004

Sample Pages

  • Soloist(s)
    Steven Dunn, Pia Freund, Tuija Hakkila, Mikael Helasvuo, Florent Jodelet, Anssi Karttunen, Ernst Kovacic
  • Ensemble
    Calder Quartet
    Gloria Cheng
    Harmonia Mundi:
  • 03 APR 2020
    Goetheanum / Dornach / Switzerland

    Other Dates:
    28 December 2019; 6 February; 11 April; 16 September - Goetheanum / Dornach / Switzerland

The five-movement trio “I feel a second heart” for viola (Dale Hikawa Silverman), cello (Anssi Karttunen), and piano (Emanuel Ax) by Saariaho revealed all these virtues and abilities in perhaps the most impressive way: suggestive music with a latent program, at its high-point a musical version of the listening of an expectant mother for sounds within herself. The rhythmic postponement, interlocking polyphony, and musically picturesque effects were as magnificent in their performance as in their composition.
Gerhard Bauer, Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger,07/03/2005
The Finnish composer works with many harmonious nuances and skillfully makes use of the deeper string sound stolen from the violin. Ax at the piano again gave the work clear contours. The excellent solo viola player, Dale Hikawa Silverman, harmonized perfectly with the Finnish cellist Anssi Karttunen.
Matthias Corvin, Kölnische Rundschau,07/03/2005
To those of us rooting for classical music to build a thriving future upon its storied history, nothing is more exciting than the introduction of a startling new work. So after a full week of attending concerts and operas in New York...what lingers is the premiere of Kaija Saariaho's "Je Sens un Deuxieme Coeur," a wonderfully strange work for viola, cello and piano that seemed monumental despite lasting only 15 minutes. The work was commissioned by Carnegie Hall for the pianist Emanuel Ax as part of his Perspectives series this season...In the last few years of his life Debussy planned a series of six sonatas for diverse instruments. He completed three. Why not commission composers to write, in a sense, the missing ones?...Choosing the Finnish-born Saariaho, a longtime Paris resident and one of the most distinctive composers of the day, was an inspired idea. Her intention in this five-movement work - the title translates as "I Feel a Second Heart" - was to capture in music the quality of forces moving in close proximity. In the second of four movements she conveys physical violence of forces in motion. But in the last movement the forces in close proximity are the beating hearts of a mother and her unborn child. Yet the music does not strain to make the imagery explicit. An astute and ingenious composer, Saariaho in the end became engrossed with purely musical ideas: instrumental energy in the violent movements, a color study in the murky and undulant third movement, the skittish, out-of-sync and slowly pulsating rhythms in the final movement. As usual her harmonic language is haunting and original. Eerie cluster chords in the piano and astringent sustained harmonies in the strings seem conceived to make you think, "Oh, how curious," not "My, how beautiful." The distinguished performers - Ax, the violist Paul Neubauer and the cellist Fred Sherry - played as if they knew they were introducing something significant.
ANTHONY TOMMASINI, New Tork Times,01/01/0001
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