Regular readers of this blog will not be surprised to see me list Kaija Saariaho as one of my four favorite living composers. I've been listening to and reading about her music for nearly ten years now. I've been very gratified to see the major play she's gotten since the turn of the century and especially this summer.

It was disconcerting, then, to read this opening, from the highly respected Martin Bernheimer's review of Ms Saariaho's La Passion de Simone:

Katja [sic] Saariaho must resemble the flavour of the month among composers. Her music - emphatically progressive, generally complex yet hardly forbidding - tries valiantly, often with success, to fuse tradition with adventure. She treads a precarious line between the cerebral and the emotional, and sometimes sustains the delicate balance.

The review is on the negative side--I haven't heard the piece, and that's beside the point--but I found the "flavour of the month" thing passive-aggressive and belittling to the composer's overall achievement and stature. I think Mr. Bernheimer shows a little consciousness of guilt when he includes the weasel words "must resemble" in front of the phrase. The rest of the review was defensible, this bit just seemed a little insecure to me.

(h/t to Lisa Hirsch for pointing me to Mr. Bernheimer's piece)

Workshop (X)

I noticed recently that it's been a pretty good while since I wrote a blog post. I've been composing a lot lately (in addition to taking a couple of trips) and I realized that composing seriously interferes with my word-writing because of the time it takes (of course) but even more because the mental space composing takes up pushes other music out of my ears/head. (That's the main reason I've gotten behind on CD reviews. Sorry, Jerry.)

I'm beginning to see a light at the end of the tunnel of my percussion concerto, and I'm reasonably sure that light isn't an oncoming train. As of now I'm looking at a spring 2009 premiere. I'll have more details, including titles, specific instrumentation, and the premiere date later.

I wrote a short piece for solo trombone called American Song during a trip to visit family. It's four minutes long and has lyrical and "technical" sections. I'm having some difficulty with converting it from Finale 2009 to pdf, but a score will be available when that is resolved.

Finally, I want to thank Karl Henning (clarinet) and Peter Cama-Lekx (viola) for their perceptive and expressive performance of The Rings of Saturn (2006), the recording of which I received this past weekend. They are artists and gentlemen, and I deeply appreciate their efforts.