• Kaija Saariaho
  • Nymphéa Reflection (2001)
    (Nymphea Reflection)

  • Chester Music Ltd (World)

Commissioned by the Schleswig Holstein Festival

Dedicated to Christoph Eschenbach

  • str(min
  • 27 min

Programme Note

The starting point for Nymphea Reflection came with the idea of arranging my string quartet Nymphea.
Then, when I actually started working on the piece, I realised that, for many reasons, a straight arrangement was impossible and that I would need to find a completely new starting point. I ended up designing a formal concept of six separate sections, each being of a very different character. These six sections have been named after their expressive nature: Sostenuto, Feroce, Dolcissimo, Lento espressivo, Furioso and Misterioso.
I started off by keeping some of the string textures of the quartet and instead of actually using electronics, I decided to simulate some of the electronic processing by means of orchestration. In the last part I have used as a timbral effect a poem by Arseniy Tarkovsky, which is whispered by the musicians. The text is not heard as such, but its spirit is present in the whole work. Reading this poem might be much better preparation to listen to the piece than my attempts to trace some of the compositional elements, which reveal so little of the music itself:

Now Summer is gone
And might never have been.
In the sunshine it's warm,
But there has to be more.

It all came to pass,
All fell into my hands
Like a five-petalled leaf,
But there has to be more.

Nothing evil was lost,
Nothing good was in vain,
All ablaze with clear light
But there has to be more.
Life gathered me up
Safe under it's wing,
My luck always held,
But there has to be more.

Not a leaf was burned up
Not a twig ever snapped
Clean as glass is the day
But there has to be more.

(Translated by Kitty Hunter-Blair)

© Kaija Saariaho


Nymphea Reflection: I. Sostenuto
Nymphea Reflection: II. Feroce
Nymphea Reflection: III. Dolcissimo
Nymphea Reflection: IV. Lento espressivo
Nymphea Reflection: V. Furioso
Nymphea Reflection: VI. Misterioso


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