Tom Service presents an analysis of Finnish composer Kaija Saariaho's Graal Théâtre followed by a performance of the work by the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Ludovic Morlot.
Tom Service presents a detailed analysis of Finnish composer Kaija Saariaho’s Graal Théâtre followed by a performance of the work by the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Ludovic Morlot.
Contemporary composer Kaija Saariaho wrote Graal Théâtre in 1994. A haunting, explosive violin concerto, it has become one of the Finnish composer’s most frequently performed pieces. Before the piece is performed in full by the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra in the MediaCity Studio in Salford, Tom Service speaks both to members of the orchestra and to Peter Herresthal, the soloist, about this relentlessly electrifying and technically demanding music. Peter demonstrates the techniques involved in producing the crunching strings and distorted effects demanded by the score. We learn how Saariaho, herself a violinist, crafted the work to reflect her own tempestuous relationship with the instrument.
Speaking to other members of the orchestra, Tom sees how Saariaho uses the entire ensemble to create a range of different colours building up to dazzling textures. The extremes of Saariaho’s score see the orchestra interacting both in harmony and in conflict with one another.
Loosely based on medieval tales from Arthurian legend, we explore the importance of these stories to the structure of Saariaho’s piece. Tom also learns of the composer’s tutelage at the French institution IRCAM, an underground labyrinth of electronic and electro-acoustic experimentation beneath the Pompidou Centre in Paris, founded by French composer Pierre Boulez. Saariaho’s time at IRCAM profoundly shaped the unique electronic, symphonic style found in this astonishing work.
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