Commissioned by Eleanor Eisenmenger in honour of Kaija Saariaho's 50th birthday

  • perc/hp/
  • Flute
  • 10 min

Programme Note

Terrestre is a reworking of the second movement of the two-movement flute concerto dedicated to Camilla Hoitenga, Aile du songe (Wing of Dream). The titles of the two works derive from the collection of poems by Saint-John Perse, Oiseaux (Birds), which already served as a source of inspiration in the solo flute piece Laconisme de l’aile. The poet speaks of the birds’ flight and uses the rich metaphor of the bird to describe life’s mysteries through an abstract and multidimensional language.

Unlike Olivier Messiaen, Saariaho is more interested in the idea of the bird than in its singing. Terrestre falls into two parts. The first, Oiseau dansant (Dancing Bird), refers to an aboriginal tale in which a virtuosic dancing bird teaches a whole village how to dance. The second section, L’Oiseau, un satellite infime, is a synthesis of the previous parts of the concerto. In the poet’s words, the bird is a small satellite in a universal orbit. That poetic image brings to mind words that Saariaho wrote at the beginning of her career: "My wish is to go further, and deeper."

© 2003 by the Carnegie Hall Corporation


San Francisco Symphony Orchestra, Chase


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