Co-commissioned by Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra, Berlin Philharmonic, Oslo Philharmonic and Los Angeles Philharmonic Association.


Unavailable for performance.

  • 3(3pic).3+ca.3(Clarinet in Eb)+bcl.3(cbn)/4.4.3.1/timp.3perc/str(14.12.10.8.6)
  • 25 min
    • 28th January 2022, Barbican Hall, London, United Kingdom
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Programme Note

In January 2019 I attended the US premiere performances of my harp concerto Trans with the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra, played by Xavier de Maistre, and conducted by Susanna Mälkki.

I had completed my latest opera Innocence before Christmas, just a month earlier, and letting my mind get fixed on the ideas that were rousing into my consciousness, planning to get into work after having returned home in Paris. My next piece was to be an orchestra piece for Susanna.

When driving after the last concert from Los Angeles to San Diego for some days, I was filled with joy after beautiful performances and enjoying the scenery on my right during the ride. We stopped every now and then to admire the view, and later I realized that most places were called vistas.

As I literally also felt that new music was flowing into my mind and opening new kinds of ideas for the piece, I started calling it simply Vista.

The score has two movements: Horizons and Targets. The excitement of writing for a full orchestra without soloists - after the many years I had used for opera composition - was inspiring, and obvious when hearing the piece.

Nevertheless, I also wanted to challenge myself, and deliberately left out some of my signature instruments in orchestral context, namely harp, piano and celesta. I also chose varied colors for the triple wood wind section and wanted to give them more place than usually.

These simple decisions made the composition process challenging, as they forced me to find new ways of expressing myself with orchestra. But after patient digging, I found a fresh sonority, that is more clearly defined without the unifying resonances of harp and piano, and the individual wind instrument lines and textures are prominent.

The two movements are using same musical material but are contrasting in their character.

Whereas Horizons is based on lines and abstract textures, Targets is more tense and dramatic, with much physical energy. The formal construction of the piece is based on the different ways of varying the - as such quite reduced - musical material. There are recognizable gestures that go through disparate transformations, and especially in Targets search restlessly new combinations of existence; the several energetic attempts to break out are finally solved into a slow coda section, during which the music returns to the calm confidence of the opening measures.

Helsinki, August 24th, 2021
Kaija Saariaho

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