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Kaija Saariaho

Publisher: Chester Music

Echo! (2007)
Commissioned by L'Opera National de Paris and Les Jeunes Solistes.
Chester Music Ltd
Chorus a cappella / Chorus plus 1 instrument
Year Composed
10 Minutes
2 sopranos, alto, countertenor, 2 tenors, 2 bass

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Programme Note
Kaija Saariaho Echo! (2007)

During the preparative discussions concerning this tribute to Olivier Messiaen, Rachid Safir - who premiered the pièce with his Ensembe Soliste 21 - made me discover some vocal pieces that he particularly enjoys.

I was touched by a double choir motet by Claude Le Jeune, found in his Livre de Mélanges: Quae Celebrat thermas (Echo Decem vocum). This piece deals with the Echo myth, and discrete but skillful language games around the echo phenomenon stayed in my mind.

This motet became the starting point of my piece, and I asked Aleksi Barriere, the libretist for the piece, to write me a text about his interpretation of the myth of Echo and Narcissus. The result is a poetic text, divided into three parts.

The idea of echo was extended naturally with electronics. Recorded voices which are processed and reverbered, delays and resonant filters, prolonge the musical textures created by the eight singers.

The composition of this piece also provided me the opportunity to rethink the work of Olivier Messiaen, and remembering my impressions when I analyzed it as a student. I do not think that my own composition methods have much to do with his, but I was able to relive the feelings of deep admiration I have for him and his music.

Paris, April 2008

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