Je sens un duxième coeur (2003) by Kaija Saariaho
for viola, cello, and piano

My original idea was to write musical portraits of the four characters in the opera Adriana Mater, but when I began reworking the material in the context of chamber music, concentrating on developing the ideas to fit the three instruments of my trio, the piece grew further from the opera.

Compositionally, I started from concrete, high profile ideas and advanced towards abstract, purely musical concerns. So, for example, the title of the first section, Je dévoile ma peau, became a metaphor: the musical material introduced was orchestrated to reveal the individual characters of the three instruments and their interrelations.

The second and fourth parts both start from ideas of physical violence. In the context of this trio the violence has turned into two studies on instrumental energy.

Part three is a colour study in which the three identities are melded into one complex sound object.

The last section brings us to the thematic starting point of my opera, again very physical: the two hearts beating in a pregnant woman's body. I am fascinated by the idea of the secret relationship between a mother and an unborn child. Musically, the two heartbeats and their constantly changing rhythmic polyphony have already served as an inspiration in my music; now the connections between the the two minds added another layer of communication.

These ideas guided the musical development how to share the intense dually-constructed material among the three trio instruments and to let it grow within their specific characters. Finally the title became also a metaphor for music making: isn't it with the 'other' we want to communicate through our music? As written over the last movement, Doloroso, sempre con amore.

— K. S.    

[from program for February 8, 2010 concert]