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Kaija Saariaho

Publisher: Chester Music

Adriana Songs (2006)
Commissioned by the Auftakt Festival, Frankfurt, the New York Philharmonic and the Orchestra Sinfonica Nazionale della RAI (tbc)
Text Writer
Amin Maalouf
Publisher
Chester Music Ltd
Category
Soloists and Orchestra
Sub Category
Soloists and Large Orchestra
Year Composed
2006
Duration
29 Minutes
Soloist
Mezzo Soprano
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Programme Note
Kaija Saariaho Adriana Songs (2006)
Score preview:




Performances
Reviews
Ms Saariaho adapted 'Adriana Songs', a work of nearly 30 minutes, from her second opera, 'Adriana Mater', which recieved its premiere in April at the National Opera in Paris, where she and her librettist Mr Maalouf have long resided. And as Mr Stucky suggested, the music, while haunting and eerily beautiful in its way, is pervasively dark...Essentially the 'Adriana Songs', with French texts by Mr Maalouf, are an exploration of the experience of bearing and raising a child in time of global hostilities and war. In the first song we encounter Adriana flushed with romantic confusion and fear; in the second, the young woman anxiously wonders whether the child she is bearing will be shaped by the blood of his violent father or by her own earnest devotion. Will he be Cain or Abel? Like many of Ms Saariaho's scores, this one abounds in spectral music that explores often static but shimmering mases of sound. After a clanking dissonant percussion burst begins the piece, the music just hovers for long stretches, with tremulous sustained tones, quietly flickering colors and eerie instrumental effects, like softly scraping strings. Yet Ms Saariaho's ear is so acute and her imagination so vivid that the masses of sound she creates buzz with inner activity. The music evolves in heaving, essentially atonal swells, with fragments of melody and instrumental riffs sometimes coalescing into long thematic lines. Over this backdrop, the vocal lines emerge, urgent and plaintive, as if trying to escape the oceanic pull of the orchestra. Everything changes in the penultimate song, 'Rages', for orchestra only, which erupts with violent fits and dissonant frenzy...
Anthony Tommasini, The New York Times,16/12/2006
A highlight was experiencing the première of her [Saariaho’s] “Adriana Songs,” commissioned by several institutions, including the Alte Oper. Pieces to listen to: Saariaho’s finely complex sounds, the almost infinite colourfulness of her instrumentations, as well as the inner-tension of distant academic thought-constructs are indeed continual invitations to listen to and to listen further. And, what definitely is not a matter of course for contemporary composers, she believes the human voice is capable of cantabile beauty and expressiveness – also in her “Adriana Songs” premièred in Frankfurt by the Irish mezzo-soprano Patricia Bardon and the Junge Deutsche Philharmonic conducted by Marc Albrecht. The three songs, along with an orchestral intermezzo, show a sharper, more edged tone language than many of Saariaho’s earlier compositions, appropriate to the subject of her second opera “Adriana mater,” the source of the music. This opera, on a libretto by Lebanese writer Amin Maalouf, deals with war, rape, revenge, fear. The music transposes these moods almost programmatically. Sharpness, eruptions of orchestral sound are mercilessly reproduced by the Junge Deutsche Philharmonic. However, it was especially the soloist, Bardon, with her full but agile voice that lent intensity to the reflections of the title figure who became a mother through rape.
Axel Zibulski, Offenbach-Post,09/09/2006
With the première of “Adriana Songs” (2005/06) at the biannual concert of the Junge Deutsche Philharmonic in the Alte Oper, perhaps the most influential and complex work of Saariaho’s feature resounded. The piece revealing four striking scenes taken from the material of Saariaho’s new opera “Adriana Mater” – a work jointly commissioned by the New York Philharmonic Orchestra, the Orchestra Sinfonica Nazionale della RAI and the Alte Oper Frankfurt – captivates with its stylized tonality, but in contrast to the composer’s other orchestral works, its motifs are denser, more terse, harder in tone. This could be owing to the libretto by Lebanese writer Amin Malouf which combines realistic scenes in a “warn-torn country” with dream sequences in connection with a family’s fate. Three of the “Adriana Songs,” revolve around this topic vocally as well, only the section “Rages” portrays purely orchestrally the mental state of a young person who at the age of 17 discovers the true character of his father who has returned home from war. Adriana, the girl’s mother, was once raped by this soldier. Kaija Saariaho develops the various strains of violence and psychological outbursts virtually from the inner-perspective: emotional explosions in the ambitus of a fanned potential of spectral sounds with occasional rhythmically insisting hardenings and even massings of sound, though the characteristic mezzo-soprano of the Irish Patricia Bardon, extraordinarily supple in all regions of sound, was continually shown off to excellent advantage. The Junge Deutsche Philharmonic, conducted by Marc Albrecht, played with as much enthusiasm as precision.
Harald Budweg, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung,09/09/2006
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