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Kaija Saariaho

Publisher: Chester Music

Graal théâtre (chamber version) (1997)
Work Notes
The reduced score (CH61077-01) is in fact the arrangement for two pianos. It requires two grand pianos with sostenuto pedal. It may be used for rehearsal of both full orchestra and chamber versions. The solo violin part is supplied separately (CH61222-01).
Chester Music Ltd
Soloists and Large Ensemble (7+ players)
Year Composed
25 Minutes
Solo Instrument(s)
Alternate Orchestration
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Programme Note
Kaija Saariaho Graal théâtre (chamber version) (1997)
Graal théâtre (Grail Theatre) takes its title from a book of the same name by Jacques Roubaud. While I was working on my violin concerto the book inspired me indirectly in two ways: firstly the title expresses the tension I feel between the efforts of the composer when writing music and the theatrical aspect of a performance, especially in the case of a concerto where the soloist is playing a major role both physically and musically. Roubaud’s interpretation of the old legend, with its very personal example, also encouraged me to realise something that I had long found impossible: to bring an idea of the violin concerto, a genre with so many
moving and skilful masterpieces, into my musical framework and language.

When compared with my other music, Graal théâtre is the exception in a long row of pieces in which I combined acoustic instruments with electronic elements. Unlike these earlier works, my starting point here was the delicate violin sound and its interaction with the orchestra.
The initial source of inspiration for the piece was the playing and musicianship of Gidon Kremer, to whom the work is dedicated.

Paris, 1995

Preview the score

  • Ensemble
    Avanti! Chamber Orchestra
    John Storgårds, violin
    Hannu Lintu
"The central characteristic of Saariaho's music, constant tension of slow changing, is microscopic drama at its best: as if one would examine large quantities of identical snowflakes first from a distance and then more closely and closely, so that the diversity and wealth of the flakes' figures suddenly dawned like a stroke of lightning. … The climax of the huge concert was the premiere of the chamber version of GRAAL THÉÂTRE. … In the chamber version of her brilliant [violin] concerto Saariaho has reduced her spectra to become more evocative and in their individuality maybe more touching, too."
Jukka Isopuro, Helsingin Sanomat,01/09/1997
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