Wednesday, 8 March 2017

Kaija Saariaho - Du Cristal...À la Fumée, Nymphéa (1993)

Two sumptuous orchestral works by Kaija Saariaho (b. 1952, Helsinki) here for your delectation, from her most textural and spectral era in the late 80's.  Du Cristal and ...À la Fumée (1989-90) are regarded as sequential to each other, and usually performed together, making the full title 'From crystal... into smoke', inspired by the writings of French philosophere Henri Atlan, and a teasing description of how this brilliant diptych sounds.  Ligeti is often cited as an obvious influence, but the huge banks of subtly shifting orchestral sound and underlying percussive thunder of Du Cristal very much has Saariaho's own stamp on it, as does ...À la Fumée where flute and cello take the lead.

The supporting work on this 1993 release is Nymphéa (1987), performed by the legendary Kronos Quartet.  The scratchy, scraping aural landscape is further transformed by electronic manipulation and by the musicians whispering words from Tarkovsky's poem 'Now Summer Is Gone'.  A gorgeous, fascinating release all round, and an ideal entry-point into Saariaho's sound world at this period in her career.

Du Cristal...À la Fumée / Nymphéa
alt. link (zippy)


  1. There was an interview with Kaija Saariaho in The Wire some years ago and this is the first opportunity I have had to hear her work. So, thank you.

    1. No worries! Will probably post my other CD by her in due course (Graal Theatre, Lichtbogen etc). There's also an album of her really early stuff over at Opium Hum if memory serves (in my blogroll).

  2. This is fantastic and I am grateful to hear it. Thanks for posting this and I look forward to the other CD of hers at some point in the future.