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Saariaho: La Passion de Simone

Saariaho: La Passion de Simone by Dawn Upshaw
Released: Mar 2013
Label: Ondine
Legend has it that philosopher and activist Simone Weil died as a result of eating only the rations available to French soldiers during World War II. True or not, it makes for a haunting cantata in the hands of Kaija Saariaho. You needn't follow the French libretto to be swept away by the composer's sensual interpretation of Weil's severity. A chorus occasionally interrupts soloist-narrator Dawn Upshaw, as if to shake the mystic Weil out of her spell. But the shimmering orchestral sounds (supervised by Esa-Pekka Salonen) are too inviting, even in their violence, to be ignored.
Seth Colter Walls