Près for solo cello and electronics emerged at the same time as Amers, a concerto for cello and chamber orchestra.  Both works were produced at IRCAM, and the electronic component is very important in each case; in Près the electronics continue and expand the musical gestures of the solo instrument in many different directions.  Près is in three movements.  The first movement concentrates on a rather linear texture in which the cello part is sometimes fused with the synthetic sounds.  This material is based on recordings I made with Anssi Kartunnen were subsequently either been analysed or used as the starting point for the work’s harmony and sound synthesis, or transformed in various ways.  The synthetic element is realized using resonant filters that also operate in real time in the later movements. Where the cello sound is modified on a music workstation developed at IRCAM.   The title of the work links to its sister work (Amers, a nautical term for leading marks or landmarks), and also to Paul Gauguin’s painting By the Sea, and hence to the experience of the sea itself and waves, their different rhythms and sounds, stormy weather and calms.  The charging up of the music and the ultimate release of that charge.

Pres is dedicated to Anssi Kartunnen, with whose collaboration I completed the piece, and who gave the first performance in Strasbourg in 1992. The programming work was realized by Xavier Chabot and Jean-Baptiste Barriere at IRCAM.


Kaija Saariaho FI/FR

Finnish composer Kaija Saariaho (born 1952) has been living and working in Paris since 1982. She studied composition under Paavo Heininen at the Sibelius Academy and later at the Musikhochschule in Freiburg with Brian Ferneyhough and Klaus Huber, receiving her diploma there in 1983.   In 1982 she attended courses in computer music at IRCAM in Paris, and since that time the computer has been an important element of her composing technique.

Saija Saariaho has won numerous awards including the Kranichsteiner Preis, Prix Italia, Ars Electronica, and the Nordic Music Prize.  Her works Verblendungen (orchestra and tape, 1982-84), and Lichtbogen (ensemble and electronics, 1985-96) established her at the forefront of international contemporary composition. Further commissions led to, amongst other works, Nymphéa (1987) for string quartet and electronics (a commission from the Lincoln Center for the Kronos Quartet), Io (1986-87) commissioned by IRCAM for the Ensemble Intercontemporain, and two linked orchestral works Du Cristal and ...à la fumée premiered in 1990 and 1991 both  in Helsinki and Los Angeles. Saariaho has also taken part in a number of multimedia productions such as the full-length ballet Maa (1991) and a pan-European collaborative project to produce a CD-ROM Prisma about her work.  She has written a violin concerto, Graal Théâtre, for Gidon Kremer and two pieces for Dawn Upshaw: an orchestral song cycle, Château de l'âme, and a solo song cycle Lonh for soprano and electronics. Saariaho's work for chorus and orchestra, Oltra mar, was premiered by the New York Philharmonic and Kurt Masur on 11th November 1999, as part of their millennium series of commissions.  Her first opera, L'amour de loin, was based on La Vida breve of Jaufre Rudel, Prince of Blaye, one of the first great troubadours of the12th century, with libretto by the French- Lebanese author Amin Maalouf. L'amour de loin was premiered on 15 August 2000 at the Salzburg Festival, directed by Peter Sellars, conducted by Kent Nagano, and has had subsequent performances in France.

For more information about Kaija Saariaho, click here.