by Kaija Saariaho

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Kaija Saariaho


Chester Music


When I considered the ensemble of eight cellos, I first thought of matt and dark textures. I also wanted to go back to some ideas on symmetry. While I was pondering all that, I saw snow flakes falling from the dark sky of the Finnish autumn. Focusing on the snow, the idea of writing variations on it and its various forms became clearer in my mind.

Nuages de neige is a uniform and linear texture in which I realise my first impressions of that ensemble. The two Etoiles de neige are based on the idea of symmetry and repetition: the first one develops up to a certain point where it doubles back as in a mirror image, the second one consists of eight sections in which the harmonic structure is repeated, as well as a linear gesture that becomes ever more present. Aiguilles de glace focuses on different pizzicati and superimposed ostinati. With Fleurs de neige I sought to recall the texture of those harmonic trills at the end of the first section, although more airy and diversified here.

© Kaija Saariaho

(Chester Music Ltd.)

During the 1997-1998 season, Kaija Saariaho was Visiting Professor of Composition at the Sibelius Academy. Neiges was written in remembrance of the winter she spent in Helsinki. As so often before, Saariaho found inspiration in natural phenomena, the textures and symmetries of snow crystals. The cello has been Saariaho's favourite instrument, together with the flute, from the beginning of her career; here, eight cellos are used to provide a wealth of colour and texture combinations.

© Risto Nieminen

translated by © Jaakko Mäntyjärvi




Chamber Works


Fp: L'Octuor de Violoncelles, Beauvais (France), May 11, 1998


1. Nuages de neige, 2. Etoile de neige, 3. Etoile de neige 2, 4. Aiguilles de glace, 5. Fleurs de neige

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Commissioned by the City of Beauvais

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