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Kaija Saariaho

Publisher: Chester Music

Graal théâtre (1994)
commissioned by the BBC and VARA Radio 4, Netherlands
Work Notes
dedicated to Gidon Kremer
Publisher
Chester Music Ltd
Category
Soloist(s) and Orchestra
Year Composed
1994
Duration
25 Minutes
Solo Instrument(s)
violin
Alternate Orchestration
violin; 1(pic).1.1+bcl.1/2.1.0+btbn.0/2perc/hp.pf/str(1.1.1.1.1)


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Programme Note
Kaija Saariaho Graal théâtre (1994)
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 that 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, both physically and musically is playing a major role. 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,

The initial source of inspiration for the piece is the playing and musicianship of Gidon Kremer, to whom the piece is dedicated.

When compared to my other music, Graal théâtre is the exception in a long row of pieces in which I combine acoustic instruments with some kind of electronic extensions. Unlike these earlier works my starting point here was the delicate violin sound and its interaction with an orchestra.

© Kaija Saariaho

  • Ensemble
    Avanti! Orchestra / Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra / BBC Symphony Orchestra
    Soloist(s)
    Anssi Kattunen, cello / Dawn Upshaw, sorprano / Gidon Kremer, violin
    Conductor
    Esa-Pekka Salonen
    Sony Music:
  • Ensemble
    Los Angeles Philharmonic
    Soloist(s)
    Anu Komsi (soprano), Riikka Rantanen (contralto), Petri Alanko (alto flute), Anssi Karttunen (cello), Petteri Salomaa (baritone), John Storgards (violin), Pia Freund (soprano), Gabriel Suovanen (baritone), Karita Mattila (soprano)
    Conductor
    Esa-Pekka Salonen
Performances
Date
Title
  • 25 AUG 2013
    Ostrava Days 2013
    Ostrava Philharmonic Hall, Czech Republic
    Janacek Philharmonic Orchestra
    Hana Kotkova, violin; Johannes Kalitzke, conductor
  • 02 AUG 2012
    Festival Valle d'Itria
    Palazzo Ducale, Martina Franca, Italy
    Orchestra Internazionale d'Italia
    Daniel Cohen, conductor
  • 03 APR 2012
    Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre, Toronto
    Glenn Gould School New Music Ensemble
    Lucy Fitz Gibbon, soprano/Emily Belvedere, harp, Andréa Tyniec, violin; Brian Current, conductor
  • 04 FEB 2012
    Music Centre Helsinki, FINLAND
    Sibelius Academy
    Santtu-Matias Rouvali, conductor
  • 28 JAN 2012
    Centennial Concert Hall, Winnipeg, Canada
    Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra
    Maria Cherwick, Jennifer Joh, violin; Jesse Plessis, piano; Alexander Mickelthwate, conductor
  • 27 JAN 2012
    Centennial Concert Hall, Winnipeg, CANADA
    Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra
    Alexander Mickelthwate, conductor
  • 10 APR 2011
    Grand Auditorium de Caen, Caen, France
    Orchestre de Caen
    Antti Tikkanen; Vahan Mardirossian, conductor
  • 29 MAY 2010
    Aspekte
    Salzburg, Austria
    Österreichisches Ensemble für Neue Musik
    Martin Mumelter
  • 29 MAY 2010
    Salzburg, Austria
    Österreichisches Ensemble für Neue Musik
    Sallaberger, Oswald, conductor
  • 16 APR 2010
    Evanston, IL
    Northwestern University
    Ryan Nelson, conductor
  • 16 APR 2010
    Evanston, IL
    Austin Wuliman, violin; Russel Rolen, cello; Ryan T. Nelson, conductor
  • 19 NOV 2009
    Brooklyn, NY
    International Contemporary Ensemble
    Brad Lubman, conductor

    Other Dates:
    22 November - Brooklyn, NY
  • 18 APR 2008
    Roundhouse Community Centre, Vancouver, Canada
    Vancouver Symphony Orchestra
    Evan Mitchell, conductor
  • 07 DEC 2006
    Proms aan het IJ
    Muziekgebouw aan 't IJ, Amsterdam, Holland
    Schönberg Ensemble
    Etienne Siebens, conductor
  • 06 AUG 2004
    Ekenäs Summer Concert Festival 2004
    Church of Ekenäs, Ekenäs,Finland
    Finnish Chamber Orchestra
    John Storgårds, violin; Jukka-Pekka Saraste, conductor
  • 28 APR 2004
    Finlandia Hall, Helsinki, Finland
    Radio Symphony Orchestra
    John Storgards, violin; Hannu Lintu, conductor
  • 31 MAR 2004
    Théâtre du Mogador, Paris
    Orchestre de Paris
    Jukka-Pekka Saraste, conductor

    Other Dates:
    1 April - Théâtre du Mogador, Paris
  • 08 NOV 2003
    Lisbon, Portugal
    OrchesterUtopica
    Tapio Tuomela, conductor
  • 07 NOV 2003
    Graal théâtre Country Premiere
    In Extremis
    Exhibitions Center, Lisbon
    Orchestrutopica
    Tapio Tuomela, conductor
  • 11 SEP 2003
    St Petersburg, Russia
    Avanti! Chamber Orchestra
    John Storgårds, violin / Kari Kriikku, clarinet

    Other Dates:
    12,13 September - St Petersburg, Russia
  • 20 JUN 2003
    Bochum, Germany
    Bochumer Symphoniker
    Camilla Hoitenga, flute / John Storgards, violin; Hannu Lintu, conductor
  • 28 MAY 2003
    Saarbrücken, Germany
    Rundfunksinfonieorchester Saarbrücken
  • 28 APR 2003
    Finlandia Hall, Helsinki, Finland
    Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra
    John Storgårds, violin; Hannu Lintu, conductor
  • 31 MAR 2003
    Orchestre de Paris
    Théâtre Mogador
    Orchestre de Paris
    John Storgards, violin; Jukka-Pekka Saraste, conductor

    Other Dates:
    1 April - Théâtre Mogador
  • 11 MAY 2002
    Guest Concert
    Sibelius Hall, Lahti
    Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra
    John Storgårds, violin; Jukka-Pekka Saraste, conductor
  • 05 APR 2002
    Frankfurt, Germany
    Ensemble Modern
    Jagdisch Mistry; Kasper de Roo, conductor
  • 28 FEB 2002
    California Institute of the Arts
  • 19 DEC 2001
    Berlin, Germany
    Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
    Gidon Kremer, violin; Esa-Pekka Salonen, conductor

    Other Dates:
    20,21 December - Berlin, Germany
  • 24 NOV 2001
    Royal Festival Hall
    London Philharmonic Orchestra
    Gidon Kremer, violin; Alan Gilbert, conductor
  • 29 OCT 2001
    Graal théâtre Country Premiere
    Ludwigshafen, Germany
    Staatsphilharmonie Rheinland Pfalz
    Gidon Kremer, violin; Hannu Lintu, conductor

    Other Dates:
    30,31 October - Ludwigshafen, Germany

Reviews
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,9/1/1997
It is indeed a superbly made piece, elegantly shaped, addressing and challenging the canons of violinistic virtuosity… It is rare, at this point, to see a composer get to grips with writing that is virtuostic, Paganinian, without succumbing to aridity, and without the piece losing its whole raison d’être.
Jacques-Emmanuel Fousnaquer, Le Monde,2/1/1996
Its protagonist is a solo violin (here played by Gideon Kremer, to whom the work is dedicated). The drama of the music is created by the fearsome virtuosity – but also the lyricism – of the violin part in the context of an everchanging orchestral texture, sometimes drawing its ideas from the violin’s lead, sometimes complementing it with other gestures…highly effective in its scintillating juxtapositions and interweavings of delicacy and richness, activity and stillness.
Geoffrey Norris, The Daily Telegraph,8/1/1995
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