We're only two weeks into the new Atlanta
Symphony Orchestra season and already we
might have heard the performance of the year.
…principal flutist Christina Smith hummed,
whirred, spat, recited French Symbolist
poetry, and not least, played a hauntingly
gorgeous flute in Kaija Saariaho's AILE DU
SONGE, a 2001 flute concerto by one of
Finland's most esteemed composers…The "Wing
of the Dream" comes in two parts, "Aérial"
and "Terrestrial." The imagery is drawn from
a collection of poems, Oiseaux, by Saint-Jean
Perse. The music, like the poems,
contemplates the mystery of birds in flight
rather than chirping birdsong.
Musically, the first section evokes the
American desert Southwest. The flute opens
with languid upward scales across two
octaves… The harp rolls out dreamy fog,
punctuated by the rattlesnake sound of
crotales…At one point the cellos and basses
provide the rumble of faraway thunder. Yet
the music is almost still…
The solo flute and orchestra interact much
more in the second section, and the mood
grows jittery. In an ear-catching effect, the
score asks the flutist to vocalize words as
she blows the notes. First it's pips and
whoops and then, near the end, snatches of
Saariaho's cool modernist aesthetic…[is]
never coddling, but neither is it unfriendly.
Like the natural world, it simply exists
apart from our expectations.
- Pierre Ruhe, Atlanta Journal Constitution
AILE DU SONGE
Solo Flute; 0000/0000/perc.timp/hp.cel/
Christina Smith, flute
22 September 2005, Atlanta, GA