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Kaija Saariaho

Publisher: Chester Music

Spins and Spells (1997)
commissioned by the Association des Concours internationaux de la Ville de Paris
Chester Music Ltd
Solo Works (excluding keyboard)
Year Composed
7 Minutes

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Programme Note
Kaija Saariaho Spins and Spells (1997)
The title evokes the two gestures which are at the origin of the work: on the one hand the pattern which I call "spinning tops" turning around on the one spot or undergoing changes, and on the other, timeless moments, centred on the sound colour and texture.
The entire piece unfolds either around or between these two gestures. I chose to re-tune the instrument in order to personalise the harmonic writing: the fifths are replaced by structures favouring major sixths and minor thirds.
Challenged by this scodatura, the sonority of Spins and Spells reminds me of the music and the instrumental colours of another age, far older than those of the cello that we know, although seen and transformed again through my own universe.

Kaija Saariaho, 26th June 1997

  • Soloist(s)
    Anssi Karttunen, cello
  • Ensemble
    Wolpe Trio
    Andreas Boettger, percussion
  • Ensemble
    Tatjana Vassilieva, cello
  • Soloist(s)
    Alexis Descharmes, cello; Jérémie Fèvre, flute; Nicolas Baldeyrou, Bass Clarinete
  • Ensemble
    Meta4 String Quartet
    Anna Laasko (piano), Marko Myohanen (electronics)
    Ondine :
  • Ensemble
    Anna Laakso, Marko Myohanen
Spins and Spells shows how cliché (string-crossing harmonics at the outset) can be transformed into poetry by a musically precise ear, a sure sense of timing and a spirit of exploration.
David Fanning, Gramophone,01/05/2003
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