Kaija Saariaho

Kaija Saariaho (born 1952)

Nationality: Finnish
Born: October 14, 1952, Helsinki (age 68)

Tocar (for violin and piano)

(for violin and piano)
Duration: 7 minutes (approximately)
Composed: 2010 (age 57-58)
3 recordings, 3 videos
Jennifer Koh, Nicolas Hodges
Movses Pogossian, Jocelyn Ho
Minna Pensola, Anna Laakso
From Kaija Saariaho

Kaija Saariaho One of my first ideas for “Tocar”, about the encounter of two instruments as different as the violin and piano, was the question: how could they touch each other? Whilst composing music, I always imagine the instrumentalist’s fingers and their sensitivity. The violin sounds are created by the collaboration between the left hand and the bow controlled by the right hand. On the piano, the pianist should be extremely precise in order to control the moment when the fingers touch the keys, afterwards the sounds can be coloured only by the pedals. In spite of such different mechanisms, both instruments also have some common points, purely musical, noticeably they share some of the same register.

In “Tocar” both instruments move forward independently, but also keep an eye on each other. I imagine a magnetism becoming stronger and stronger – the piano part becomes more mobile – which draws the violin texture towards the piano writing culminating in an encounter in unison. After this short moment of symbiosis, the violin line is released from the measured piano motion, continuing its own life outside the laws of gravity. The title, in Spanish, is translated as “to touch, to play”.

“Tocar” was commissioned by the International Jean Sibelius Violin Competition. The work was premiered by the 20 semi-finalists in Helsinki on the 26th, 27th, and 28th November 2010.

Paris, November 29th, 2010
Kaija Saariaho

© Kaija Saariaho. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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