Saariaho’s Orion

Following the wonderful performances of Vaughan Williams and Richard Strauss the previous weekend, on January 23, 24, 25, the Cleveland Orchestra, conducted by Franz Welser-Möst, performed the world premiere of a commissioned work, Orion, by the Finnish composer Kaija Saariaho (b.1952). Her works have been highly praised over the past few years, particularly her recent opera L’Amour de Loin, which received its American premiere at Santa Fe last summer.

“Orion” is highly atmospheric, describing night and stars, but it is also highly musical, with texture, movement, meaningful rhythm. There are many brilliant strokes of orchestration, and the work holds together as a whole. I hope it is recorded and released by someone. It deserves many performances.

These concerts also included Debussy’s “Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun” and Brahms’ Piano Concerto no. 1, with Radu Lupu as soloist. They were fine too. A lot of people were asleep where I was sitting during the Brahms.

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