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Kaija Saariaho

Publisher: Chester Music

Circle Map (2012)
Commissioned by Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Boston Symphony Orchestra, Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra, Orchestre National de France, Royal Scottish National Orchestra and Stavanger Symphony Orchestra
Text Writer
Rumi
Publisher
Chester Music Ltd
Category
Orchestra
Sub Category
Large Orchestra
Year Composed
2012
Duration
26 Minutes
Programme Note
Kaija Saariaho Circle Map (2012)
FOR FULL INFORMATION ON THE ELECTRONICS, please click here.


Preview the score


  • Ensemble
    Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra
    Conductor
    Susanna Mälkki
    RCO Live:
Performances
Date
Title
  • 30 JAN 2016
    Circle Map Country Premiere
    Konzerthaus, Vienna, Austria
    Niederösterreichische Tonkünstler
    Yutaka Sado, conductor
  • 22 MAR 2014
    Glasgow Royal Concert Hall, Glasgow, UK
    Royal Scottish National Orchestra
    Susanna Mälkki, conductor
  • 21 MAR 2014
    Circle Map UK Premiere
    Usher Hall, Edinburgh, UK
    Royal Scottish National Orchestra
    Susanna Mälkki, conductor
  • 07 NOV 2013
    Circle Map Country Premiere
    Théâtre des Champs-Elysées, Paris, France
    Orchestre de Radio France
  • 06 FEB 2013
    Circle Map Country Premiere
    Gothenburg, Sweden
    Gothenberg Symphony Orchestra
    Susanna Mälkki, conductor

    Other Dates:
    7,8 February - Gothenburg, Sweden
  • 02 NOV 2012
    Circle Map US Premiere
    Symphony Hall, Boston, USA
    Boston Symphony Orchestra
    Juanjo Mena, conductor

    Other Dates:
    3,6 November - Symphony Hall, Boston, USA
  • 01 NOV 2012
    Symphony Hall, Boston, MA, USA
    Boston Symphony Orchestra
    Juanjo Mena, conductor

    Other Dates:
    2,3,6 November -
  • 01 NOV 2012
    Boston, MA
    Boston Symphony Orchestra

    Other Dates:
    2-6 November - Boston, MA
  • 28 SEP 2012
    Circle Map Country Premiere
    Stavanger Concert Hall, Stavanger, Norway
    Stavanger Symphony Orchestra
    Steven Sloane, conductor
  • 23 JUN 2012
    Westergasfabriek Amsterdam HOLLAND
    Koninkliijk Concertgebouworkes
    Susanna Mälkki, conductor
  • 22 JUN 2012
    Kraft
    Circle Map World Premiere
    Holland Festival
    Gashouder, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
    Concertgebouw Orchestra
    Anssi Karttunen, cello / Gustavo Gimeno and Herman Rieken percussion / Kari Kriikku, clarinet / Ralph von Raat, piano; Susanna Mälkki, conductor

    Other Dates:
    23 June - Gashouder, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Reviews
The composer Kaija Saariaho's imaginative world is riddled with the unexpected under guise of the more familiar. an expert at melding the electric and the acoustic, Saariaho constantly pulls the rug out from under the listener's feet.
Sarah Urwin Jones , The Times,3/24/2014
Saariaho's writing is extremely refined, like a fine mist through which solo lines emerge and retreat. Occasionally, the complex mech feels dense, even claustrophobic; mostly, the effect is magical.
Kate Molleson, The Guardian ,3/24/2014
...highly atmospheric movements, often clinched by sizzling, otherworldly percussion, here delicately delivered. There were several lovely passages for vibraphone, particularly in no. 3 "Circles".
Alan Coady, Bachtrack.com,3/24/2014
“it was scored with an expert ear for exquisite sonority, and there was a gratifying inevitability to its organic-sounding structures. Motifs circled (appropriately) around and around, and Saariaho cleverly balanced ethereal-sounding fragility with big, muscular climaxes.”
David Kettle, The Scotsman,3/24/2014
It’s been said that reading a poem in translation is a bit like kissing a bride through a veil. Yet what a veil Kaija Saariaho has given us in her exquisitely drawn “Circle Map,” a new work for orchestra and electronics that builds out — in many concentric circles — from six stanzas of poetry by the 13th-century Persian poet Rumi. The Persian verse itself was of course translated, in the literal sense, in the program book for Thursday night’s US premiere of this work by the Boston Symphony Orchestra. Yet what Saariaho has done in her work was a deeper kind of translation, at once vaporizing these texts and making them strangely tactile. She has done so by building her work on a recording of the Persian artist Arshia Cont reciting the Rumi quatrains in their original language. Then, employing a strategy she has used in many electro-acoustic works, Saariaho digitally refracted the recorded voice and composed a full orchestral score around it, one that is keenly attentive to the granular surface details of the recording. You can think of it as high-modernism at play with digital sound art, rendered with an extremely refined ear, a formal rigor, and a sensual French-inflected timbral palette. Saariaho’s works can occasionally bog down beneath the weight of their own abstraction, but in “Circle Map,” the straightforward (if mystical) poetic texts unlock the piece and make it one of her most accessible orchestral scores. The first movement titled “Morning Wind” is carried on wisps of woodwind melody; “Circles” overlays brass riffs and myriad small repeating gestures. The final movement, the most striking in its gentle lambent light, imagines what Rumi meant by a “quiet, bright reedsong.” The Spanish conductor Juanjo Mena led the BSO, which co-commissioned the piece, in a richly atmospheric performance. The Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra gave this work’s world premiere in a reclaimed industrial space in Amsterdam, but on Thursday, the elegance of Saariaho’s music felt right at home in Symphony Hall.
Jeremy Eichler, The Boston Globe,11/2/2012
The Saariaho work, spanning nearly a half-hour, was a major undertaking, technically and artistically. The electronic component had to be re-designed for the long rectangle that is Symphony Hall, a very different space from Amsterdam’s Westergasfabriek Gashouder, the cylindrical gas-storage-tank-turned-concert-hall for which this piece was composed. Not only did the BSO musicians have to master the acoustical complexities of the research-based style known as musique spectrale, they then had to blend seamlessly with electronic sounds emanating from all over the auditorium. All the effort and expense involved in mounting such a work paid off handsomely in the performance, which wove a deeply evocative sound-world around verses by the 13th-century poet Rumi, spoken on the electronic track in the original Persian. The human voice was the work’s touchstone, first as articulate language, then as altered and abstracted sound that moved out through the hall. The sound design by Timo Kurkikangas was often such a subtle presence that one hardly knew where the musicians’ imaginative playing left off and the electronic overtones began. All was informed by Rumi’s nature imagery, complemented by Saariaho’s chemistry with the natural acoustic properties of the instruments. For example, the work opened with a delicate sizzle of piccolo and percussion, then a microtonal swirl of strings as, in the poet’s words, “The morning wind spread its fresh smell.” In the third movement, a wonderfully strange mixture of hollow rumblings and celestial shimmer arose from Rumi’s conflicting imagery: “Walk to the well./Turn as the earth and the moon turn…” Saariaho’s sound images could also be charmingly direct, as when a lugubrious trumpet evoked the lover’s absence in the second movement, “Walls closing,” and electronic alteration of the speaker’s voice in the fifth movement, “Dialogue,” produced a childlike squeak for a question and a voice-of-God boom for the reply. Mena skillfully oversaw the mix of Saariaho’s acoustics and colors, giving each movement its distinct character, without neglecting a sense of pace and direction. Big in every sense—performing forces, heart, artistic ambition—Circle Map showed a route to new territory for that old institution, the symphony orchestra.
David Right, The Classical Review,11/2/2012
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