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Jack Sullivan
American Record Guide, July 2017

For an avant-garde composer whose music is often cerebral and distancing, Kaija Saariaho has done well at getting her works, whether elaborate operas or intimate chamber pieces, performed and recognized. She is adept with long as well as short forms, instrumental as well as vocal music. Her style is nontonal, yet imaginative and colorful, a key to its success.

Pia Freund is the rapturous soprano. The Meta4 Quartet, for whom several of the works were written or rewritten, plays with intensity and commitment. © 2017 American Record Guide Read complete review on American Record Guide



Roy Westbrook
MusicWeb International, June 2017

Meta4 is an internationally successful group of players, and play superbly throughout—they are clearly able to evoke the desired musical effect from these myriad ways of writing for just a few string players. The sound is realistic but atmospheric, those subtle string effects perfectly balanced both by the players and the recording engineer, with the soprano voice convincingly placed in the acoustic. © 2017 MusicWeb International Read complete review



Andrew Mellor
The Strad, February 2017

There is the sense of something happening, falling, in Fleurs de neige (1998) and those shifting colours (with all manner of bow techniques) happen to be utterly beguiling as well. Terra memoria (2006), written for the Emerson Quartet, is concentrated but fertile, an evocative vision of memories fragmenting and transforming.

In between, as in …de la terre (1991) and Changing Light (2002), I hear little more than self-regarding musical wallpaper, for all the technical brilliance, interpretative spirit and reactive listening brought to the table by the excellent Meta4. © 2017 The Strad Read complete review



Stephen Smoliar
The Rehearsal Studio, December 2016

SAARIAHO, K.: Chamber Works for Strings, Vol. 1 (Meta4, Laakso) ODE1222-2
SAARIAHO, K.: Chamber Works for Strings, Vol. 2 (Meta4, Freund) ODE1242-2

…those encountering Saariaho for the first time might do well consider the second volume before the first. Beginning with her settings of text, the neophyte listener may have a better crack and developing some sense of “how time passes” (in the words of Karlheinz Stockhausen) in the flow of Saariaho’s sonorities. One can then move on to the more abstract instrumental works and ultimately take in her approach to the interplay between instruments and electronics. This is likely to be a rather lengthy process for establishing acquaintance, but personal experience has revealed that it can be a rewarding one. © 2016 The Rehearsal Studio



David Denton
David's Review Corner, November 2016

Born in Finland in 1952, Kaija Saariaho has resided in Paris for much of her life, having joined the most progressive cutting-edge composers of her generation. With a large portfolio of works from major operas through to a sizeable catalogue of chamber music, her musical language resides in the world of atonality, just edging towards melody when suitable for the moment, the pensive passages in a style that has a home in music from northern Europe. The turn of the century found her working with a new Finnish string quartet, Mata 4, who had just come to international recognition with influential competition successes. This relationship has brought about a recirculation of previous compositions recast and reshaped so as to be performed by the whole ensemble or its individual members. And so I could enumerate the source of these ‘arrangements’, though in the end I have to comment on the sounds we hear, and there I find the generally slow tempos and tight dynamic range an acquired taste. Certainly her use of the human voice as a string instrument that glides around and shapes words into sounds, is unusual and captures attention. Saariaho has also been much interested in the new world of sound generated by electronics that we hear in one of the more extended works, …de la Terre. It is when we reach the final track, Terra Memoria, that we find an original work composed for a quartet, though her thoughts are much the same as in her adaptations. Meta 4 have been involved in the technical side of this immaculate recording, and their close relationship with Saariaho gives it a definitive pedigree. © 2016 David’s Review Corner





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