LSM Newswire

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Ondine to release new Kaija Saariaho CD in September


Ondine to release world premiere recording of

Kaija Saariaho's Mirage for soprano, cello and orchestra

in September 2008

Saariaho is Lincoln Center's Mostly Mozart Festival

Composer-in-Residence for 2008 (July 29 August 23)

North American release date: September 9

Promotional copies available in early August

Includes Mirage (2007) for soprano, cello and orchestra; Orion (2002) for orchestra;

and Notes on Light* (2006) for cello and orchestra, performed by soprano Karita Mattila,

cellist Anssi Karttunen, and Christoph Eschenbach conducting the Orchestre de Paris

*Notes on Light to receive New York premiere by Anssi Karttunen on August 14 during Mostly Mozart Festival

Photo by Maarit Kytharju

Helsinki, Finland, & New York, NYFinnish composer Kaija Saariaho, the Lincoln Center Mostly Mozart Festival Composer-in-Residence for 2008, will see the world premiere recording of her 2007 work, Mirage for soprano, cello, and orchestra, released by Ondine in North America on September 9, 2008. The live concert recording also includes her 2002 work for orchestra, Orion, and her 2006 cello concerto Notes on Light.

The Ondine CD features soprano Karita Mattila, cellist Anssi Karttunen (who will perform the New York premiere of Notes on Light as part of the Mostly Mozart Festival on August 14), and Christoph Eschenbach conducting the Orchestre de Paris. Their performance, which was the world premiere of Mirage, took place on March 13, 2008 at Salle Playel in Paris, the city where Ms. Saariaho has made her home since 1982. It was recorded by Radio France for release by Ondine.

Mirage is the musical setting of a short poem by the Mexican shaman and Mazatec healer Mara Sabina (1896-1985). It adds to a long list of expressive vocal compositions by Saariaho, including the recent oratorio La Passion de Simone (2006; US premiere during the 2008 Mostly Mozart Festival), the opera Adriana Mater (2006; US premiere during the 2008 Santa Fe Opera Festiva in July), and the song cycle Quatre instants (2002). Mirage is a commission by the Orchestre de Paris, BBC Symphony Orchestra and Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin. It was given its UK premiere on March 19 with Jiri Belohlavek conducting the BBCSO and its German premiere on March 20 with Jukka-Pekka Saraste conducting the DSO. Both concerts also featured Karita Mattila and Anssi Karttunen.

Following the UK premiere, The Times raved about Mirage, stating, "Anssi Karttunen's cello breathes out the first notes, in a spectral upward glissando, grazed by touches of percussion . . . This too, though, is the entrance into a strange world of spiritual exploration: the voice enters with a half- questioning cry of 'I am,' which then dominates the discourse. Voice and cello fly up and swim down as the shaman's trance deepens. Few singers other than Mattila will be able to hurl the voice into such high ecstasy, bend its tones and express the entire transformation in such racked yet exultant body language."

About Ondine: Ondine was founded more than twenty years ago in Helsinki, Finland, where the company is still based and today offers an extremely eclectic catalogue of both contemporary Finnish music, as well as recordings with major Finnish and international artists.

Ondine's extensive catalogue includes more than four hundred recordings (two hundred and fifty of which are available physically) of artists and ensembles such as conductor and pianist Christoph Eschenbach, conductors Vladimir Ashkenazy, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Jukka-Pekka Saraste, Sakari Oramo, Leif Segerstam, John Storgrds and Mikko Franck, orchestras such as The Philadelphia Orchestra, the Orchestre de Paris, the London Sinfonietta, the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, the BBC Symphony Orchestra, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Czech Philharmonic, the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra and the Helsinki Philharmonic, sopranos Karita Mattila and Soile Isokoski, pianist Olli Mustonen, violinist Pekka Kuusisto and clarinettist Kari Kriikku. The label has also had a long and fruitful association with Finnish composers Kaija Saariaho, Einojuhani Rautavaara and Magnus Lindberg.

In partnership with Universal Music Classical for distribution in the United States and in Canada, Ondine continues to uphold its reputation as one of the most respected labels in classical music. Its products have received numerous prizes at the Cannes (MIDEM) Classical Awards, the Gramophone Awards, the BBC Music Magazine Awards and the Classical Internet Awards.

More About KAIJA SAARIAHO and Lincoln Center's Mostly Mozart Festival

Kaija Saariaho is one of an extraordinary group of Finnish musicians making an impact around the world, and is one of the few female contemporary composers to have achieved wide public and critical acclaim. Her lushly-textured work, rooted in studies of electro-acoustic technology and the science of sound honed in her early days at the IRCAM Institute in Paris, is often described as mysterious and other-worldly. She is a recipient of the prestigious Grawemeyer Award in 2003 and is also the recipient of the Prix Italia. Musical America magazine chose Ms. Saariaho as its 2008 Composer of the Year.

With Kaija Saariaho in the spotlight, a strong contingent of her Finnish compatriots are participating in the 2008 Mostly Mozart Festival, among them many, like Saariaho, who received early training at Helsinki's famed Sibelius Academy. Works by Finnish composers and performances by Finnish musicians will be featured throughout the festival: in concerts with the Mostly Mozart Festival Orchestra, and as part of "A Little Night Music" late-evening concerts and a Sunday mid-day recital.

Rising young Finnish conductor Susanna Mlkki conducted the world premiere of La Passion de Simone at the New Crowned Hope Festival in 2006. Appointed music director of the Ensemble intercontemporain later that year, she makes her New York debut conducting the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra in performances of the Saariaho oratorio at Mostly Mozart 2008 (August 13, 15, 17). In a separate concert program with the orchestra, (August 14) Mlkki conducts Beethoven's Symphony No. 3 ("Eroica") and the New York premiere of Saariaho's cello concerto Notes on Light, performed by fellow countryman and Sibelius Academy graduate cellist Anssi Karttunen, for whom it was written, and who is featured on the forthcoming Ondine recording of the work.

Mr. Karttunen, a frequent collaborator with Ms. Saariaho, said of the composer in a New York Times article, "Kaija gets sounds out of the cello and other instruments that were never before accepted . .. . She surprises us, transforms our conceptions of particular sounds. She looks for beauty in absolutely everything." Notes on Light was commissioned by the Boston Symphony Orchestra for its 125th anniversary. On the final page of the score, Saariaho includes a quote from T.S. Eliot, "...I could not speak, and my eyes failed, I was neither living nor dead, and I knew nothing, looking into the heart of light, the silence."

Mr. Karttunen joins fellow Finn, pianist and Sibelius Academy graduate Tuija Hakkila for "A Little Night Music" late-night concert on August 15 in the Kaplan Penthouse. They will perform music of Debussy and four Saariaho works: Sept Papillons (etudes for solo cello), Prelude (for piano), Ballade (for piano) and Serenatas (New York Premiere, for piano, cello and percussion), joined by David Cossin, percussion. Tuija Hakkila, also a noted fortepianist, will give a solo noon-time recital on Sunday, August 17 in the Walter Reade Theater, performing works of Mozart and Finnish composer and Mozart contemporary Fredrik Lithander (1777-1823).

Osmo Vnsk will conduct two programs with the Mostly Mozart Festival Orchestra, and play the clarinet on one program. Vnsk, another graduate of the Sibelius Academy, is in his fifth season as Music Director of the Minnesota Orchestra. On August 15 and 16, in Avery Fisher Hall, he conducts Sibelius' majestic orchestral suite Pellas och Mlisande, Beethoven's Symphony No. 2 and Mozart's Clarinet Concerto with Finn Kari Kriikku, making his Mostly Mozart debut. Kriikku, another Sibelius Academy alumnus, was, with Ms. Saariaho, a founding member of the Avanti! Chamber orchestra for which he also served as music director.

[A schedule for Lincoln Center's Mostly Mozart Festival is available online at www.lincolncenter.org.]


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