Nymphea Reflection

by Kaija Saariaho

Empty sheet

Kaija Saariaho

Nymphea Reflection

Chester Music


The starting point for Nymphea Reflection came with the idea of arranging my string quartet Nymphea. Then, when I actually started working on the piece, I realised that, for many reasons, a straight arrangement was impossible and that I would need to find a completely new starting point. I ended up designing a formal concept of six separate sections, each being of a very different character. These six sections have been named after their expressive nature: Sostenuto, Feroce, Dolcissimo, Lento espressivo, Furioso and Misterioso.

I started off by keeping some of the string textures of the quartet and instead of actually using electronics, I decided to simulate some of the electronic processing by means of orchestration. In the last part I have used as a timbral effect a poem by Arseniy Tarkovsky, which is whispered by the musicians. The text is not heard as such, but its spirit is present in the whole work. Reading this poem might be much better preparation to listen to the piece than my attempts to trace some of the compositional elements, which reveal so little of the music itself:

Now Summer is gone

And might never have been.

In the sunshine it's warm,

But there has to be more.

It all came to pass,

All fell into my hands

Like a five-petalled leaf,

But there has to be more.

Nothing evil was lost,

Nothing good was in vain,

All ablaze with clear light

But there has to be more.

Life gathered me up

Safe under it's wing,

My luck always held,

But there has to be more.

Not a leaf was burned up

Not a twig ever snapped

Clean as glass is the day

But there has to be more.

(Translated by Kitty Hunter-Blair)

© Kaija Saariaho, 2001

Chester Music Ltd.




Works for Orchestra or Large Ensemble


Sinfonietta Cracovia, cond. John Axelrod, Schleswig-Holstein Festival (Germany), August 16, 2001.


I sostenuto, II Feroce, III Dolcissimo, IV Lento espressivo, V Furioso, VI Misterioso

Commisioned by / dedications

Dedicated to Christoph Eschenbach.

+ Add information

No sheet music available from Music Finland.