Helsinki, Berlin, Oslo, Los Angeles – Kaija Saariaho’s Vista is a joint commission by four leading philharmonic orchestras.
Helsinki, Berliini, Oslo, Los Angeles – Kaija Saariaho’s Vista is a joint commission by four top philharmonic orchestras. The composer came up with the name for her new piece while driving along the West Coast of the USA: “The road signs indicating scenic areas say ‘Vista’ on them. New landscapes opened up for me, quite literally, as right before the trip I completed my new opera, which I had been working on for years.”
Joining the HPO as soloist of Robert Schumann's piano concerto is Kirill Gerstein, for whom playing with an orchestra is a magical event. “Playing music and making sound together with other people who are incredibly skilled is an extraordinary feeling of doing something magical.”
Robert Schumann: Piano Concerto in A Minor
“I can’t write a concerto for virtuosi and have to think of something else,” wrote Robert Schumann (1810–1856) to his pianist wife Clara in 1839, and a couple of years later she was the soloist in his one-movement Concert Phantasie. “Carefully studied, it must give the greatest pleasure to those who hear it,” she declared. “The piano is most skilfully interwoven with the orchestra; it is impossible to think of one without the other.” Robert had, however, long entertained the idea of one day composing a great piano concerto, and in 1845 he dug out his earlier Concert Phantasie with a view to making it the first movement of a concerto. In the meantime, he had been busy composing works for solo piano, songs, chamber and symphonic music, culminating in a concerto that embraces them all; on the one hand it is a loving duet for soloist and orchestra, and on the other a symphony with a part for a solo piano. For a Romantic concerto it is unusually restrained, and although the piano is clearly the leader, asserting itself in the very first bars, it is also very much ‘one of us’.
Kaija Saariaho: Vista
“Kaija Saariaho is one of the monumental composers of our time. There are so many wonderful things that can be said about her music, especially her great pieces for larger forces – many of which are personal favourites. In addition I feel that the powerful presence of her music over the years has been particularly important as a role model for younger generations, not least for younger women in music that find inspiration and encouragement in such a compelling composer. This multifaceted influence will, without doubt, carry on shaping the music of the future.”
Thus wrote Icelandic composer Anna Thorvaldsdottir in a poll conducted by the BBC Music Magazine asking 174 leading composers from all over the world to name the greatest composer of all times. Top of the list was J.S. Bach, but of living composers, the highest honour went to Kaija Saariaho (b. 1952).
Vista (2019) was composed as a joint commission from the HPO, the Berlin, Oslo and Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestras. The title occurred to Saariaho as she drove from Los Angeles towards San Diego and kept seeing road signs saying “Vista” at lookout points. Her head was immediately filled with ideas for a new work, opening up new landscapes, new vistas.