SAARIAHO Clarinet Concerto, D'om le vrai sens
As Kaija Saariaho approaches her 60th birthday, her music continues to extend in range and depth. Susana Välimäki’s moving note in the booklet concerning the Clarinet Concerto D’om le vrai sens (2010) raised expectations hugely and the resulting work does not disappoint. Cast in six interlinked movements, the concerto (the subtitle renders roughly as ‘Man’s true sense’) explores the five senses as depicted in the medieval tapestry series The Lady and the Unicorn. Hearing, Sight, Smell, Touch and Taste form a chain that resolves in the concluding A mon seul désir (an anagram of the title) in a remarkable synthesis and development of the work’s content. Kriikku is invited, Musgrave-like, to move around the auditorium and audience in a live performance and though the recording does not really capture this spatial aspect little musically is lost.
The Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra partner Kriikku admirably in this enchanting concerto and under Oramo’s sensitive direction provide beguiling accompaniments for Anu Komsi in the four Leino Songs (2007) that conclude the programme. These delicate settings of Eino Leino’s ‘Looking at you’, ‘The Heart’, ‘Peace’ and ‘Evening Prayer’ (to give their English titles) make a beautifully refined set, mutually supportive one for the others, almost a Four Last Songs for the 21st century – although one hopes Saariaho will continue to write solo song sets. Komsi,
for whom they were written, proves an exemplary executant.
In between lies Laterna magica (2008), a purely orchestral fantasy inspired by Ingmar Bergman and the old magic lantern projectors. The result is a filigree tone-poem with a soul of steel that showcases the Finnish orchestra splendidly. Ondine’s demonstration sound caps a marvellous issue. Recommended.