I do not have that much of Saariaho's music, I must admit to finding it a little difficult to crack, although when I persevere I am always rewarded! This disc is slightly different in that it required a lot less work on my part to enjoy this music, indeed it was almost instantaneous enjoyment! Especially in the Clarinet Concerto with its searing high notes almost sounding like a Japanese bamboo flute rather than a clarinet at times. The work is a joint commission by the BBC, so let us hope that the BBC Phil perform it in Manchester, as, as with most of Saariaho's music, I think you really have to hear it performed live to truly appreciate it!
Saariaho is almost like the queen of Finnish music to Rautavaara's king, and this position is further strengthened with her large scale orchestral tour de force, Laterna Magica, which is very nearly a 24 minute single span concerto for orchestra, with all sections of the orchestra seemingly getting to show their skills, and boy, do they need to be skilled!
The disc concludes with the more ethereal Leino Songs, a series of four texts by Eino Leino, who is regarded as probably the most important of all Finnish poets. They were composed especially with the voice of the present singer, the soprano Anu Komsi, in mind, giving us the performance as intended by the composer.
Throughout the performances are first rate, both the soloists and the orchestra are at the top of their form, expertly marshalled by Sakari Oramo, who worked closely with the composer when preparing the performances. The recorded sound and balance is excellent as are the booklet notes making this disc highly recommendable. This year sees Saariaho's sixtieth birthday, so why not take this opportunity to explore her music!