UK premiere of Kaija Saariaho’s Laterna Magica

BBC has a second installment of Proms on TV (but you can also listen to it on the radio that is available in all regions of the world). I am mostly interested in Saariaho’s piece, but there is of course the opening sequence of Richard Strauss’s Also sprach Zarathustra which I do not mind, but which I cannot quite enjoy because it was used in the very strange context on the Soviet TV (as an opening music to a popular quiz show) and since then I cannot listent to it seriously. And then there is of course Stanley Kubrick’s choice of music…

Saariaho’s piece is third on the program (after Strauss’ Four Last Songs). The piece – Laterna magica – is inspired by Ingmar Bergman’s films (especially “Cries and Whispers”). Saariaho gives a short explanation of inspiration behind the piece.

The piece itself is interesting but the connection to Bergman and play of lights and all that other stuff is not very obvious. But perhaps it is my suspicion of the program music coming through. I suppose if one takes volume and connect it to brightness, one can “hear” the play of “cries and whispers” but it does not help see (or interfere with) some special dimension of the piece. It is enjoyable in and of itself.

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