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Robert Carl
Fanfare, March 2012

All these are exceptional performances…If you’ve not heard Saariaho before, this is an excellent introduction. © 2012 Fanfare Read complete review on Fanfare

Andrew Timar
The WholeNote, February 2012

This CD features three recent all-acoustic works performed by some of Finland’s finest interpreters. Saariaho’s clarinet concerto D’om Le Vrai Sens…is almost operatic in scope, the solo clarinet virtuoso Kari Kriikku playing the protagonist to the orchestra’s lushly mysterious textures.

Saariaho’s dramatic orchestral piece Laterna Magica…underscores the composer’s fascination with boundaries: between observation and imagination; between objective light and subjective dream-like reality. The latter is represented in sound by shifting, colourfully orchestrated, alternating dense and wispy chords and evanescent hissing instrumental sounds. Whispered words uttered by the musicians…adding to the music’s mystery.

The four Leino Songs…is by far the shortest of the works here, yet its emotional impact is perhaps the greatest. © 2012 The WholeNote Read complete review

Patrick Hanudel
American Record Guide, January 2012

Saariaho comes across as bizarrely alluring and fascinating, as if the composer had opened a portal into another dimension that the listener cannot resist.

Komsi boasts a beautiful and resonant voice that cuts through the orchestra but is not overpowering, and she phrases with a variety of shades and hues. Kriikku is an exceptionally skilled player, handling all the extended techniques with ease and scaling the composer’s wicked technical passages with sizzling fingers and articulation.

…the Finnish Radio Symphony is first-rate from beginning to end, and their compelling renditions alone make this album hard to put down. © 2012 American Record Guide Read complete review on American Record Guide online

Guy Rickards
Gramophone, December 2011

Susana Välimäki’s moving note in the booklet…raised expectations hugely and the resulting work does not disappoint.

The Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra partner Kriikku admirably in this enchanting concerto and under Oramo’s sensitive direction provide beguiling accompaniments… These delicate settings of Eino Leino’s ‘Looking at you’, ‘The Heart’, ‘Peace’ and ‘Evening Prayer’ (to give their English titles) make a beautifully refined set, mutually supportive one for the others… Komsi, for whom they were written, proves an exemplary executant.

Laterna magica (2008)…showcases the Finnish orchestra splendidly. Ondine’s demonstration sound caps a marvellous issue. Recommended.

To read the complete review, please visit Gramophone online.

Jeff Dunn
San Francisco Classical Voice, November 2011

This collection of three compositions written in the last five years finds Saariaho, the master orchestrator, concentrating on new ways to create deeply unsettling atmospheres without being blatant about it.

Do not take this special set of downers in one sitting. Cherish each, to match and accompany multiple varieties of despair if they happen to occur in your life. © San Francisco Classical Voice Read complete review

Norman Lebrecht
La Scena Musicale, November 2011

the present triptych of new works, written between 2006 and 2010, has melted my resistance. The title work is a clarinet concerto that performs enough Gershwin riffs and virtuosic tricks to command full attention for half an hour—and if you haven’t heard Kari Kriiku do his stuff, you must.

The sense of aptness…is compelling. The sound, too, is impressive. Read complete review

Dominy Clements
MusicWeb International, November 2011

This is a superbly produced recording from the Ondine label, which has been championing Saariaho’s music for some time now. …this varied and deeply fascinating programme is as good a place as any to become acquainted with her remarkable universe of expressive sonority and mystical depth. Read complete review

Stephen Eddins, November 2011

Finnish composer Kaija Saariaho continues to produce music with a sonic sensuality that’s never less than gripping. She is a masterful orchestrator and her work vibrates with fascinating colors and textures that demand attention. Her pieces tend to have a tone of evanescent mystery, and that’s the prevailing mood of the three orchestral works that are given their premiere recording on this 2011 Ondine release. They are loosely programmatic in that their titles make specific artistic or literary allusions that give listeners a frame of reference for understanding her intentions. Saariaho’s music uses a full range of contemporary techniques (with a special affinity for French spectralism), but its focused expressiveness gives it a powerfully direct emotional impact. The Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra plays with clarity and understanding under Sakari Oramo. Ondine’s sound is clean, detailed, and present. Read complete review, October 2011

Kaija Saariaho…proves on a new Ondine CD to have a distinctive voice and considerable skill in both instrumental and vocal composition. Kari Kriikku is fully equal to the work’s many challenges…The four songs (“Looking at You,” “The Heart,” “Evening Prayer” and “Peace”) were written for Anu Komsi, who performs them with elegance and grace.

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