CD and Other Review

Review: Kaija Saariaho: Let the Wind Speak (Camilla Hoitenga)

A plaintive flute melody, ending in a sigh, opens Tocar, the first track on Camilla Hoitenga’s new album Let the Wind Speak. The recording showcases Finnish composer Kaija Saariaho’s chamber music and it is infused with the close personal relationship between flautist and composer. The album features acoustic works for solo flutes (Hoitenga also plays alto, bass and piccolo) and chamber ensembles, including several new arrangements. At the heart of the CD is Sombre, a work commissioned in 2012 by Da Camera of Houston for performance in the tranquil space of Texas’s Rothko Chapel. Prefaced by solo bass flute, Sombre is based on fragments of Ezra Pound’s last Cantos, from which the album takes its name: “Do not move/Let the wind speak/that is paradise.” Hoitenga and Da Camera are joined by baritone Daniel Belcher, whose dark voice compliments the timbre of the bass flute. Tocar, originally for violin and piano, appears in a new arrangement for flute and harp, Hoitenga’s slides and timbral murmurations against Héloïse Dautry’s expressive harp playing. Although the aural quality of the work is very different, Hoitenga’s “flutistic” arrangement of the violin part perfectly captures the atmosphere of Saariaho’s work. Mirrors, which appears in three different…

February 23, 2016