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BBCSO/Oramo review – a bewitching poetic meditation

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Barbican, London
Kaija Saariaho’s song cycle True Fire wove works by Emerson and Heaney into a pulsing sonic web, with baritone Gerald Finley exemplary at its heart

True Fire, Kaija Saariaho’s new song cycle for baritone and orchestra, was written expressly for Gerald Finley. He gave the first performance in Los Angeles last year, and was the soloist for the UK premiere too, with Sakari Oramo conducting the BBC Symphony Orchestra.

The half-hour cycle interleaves settings of Ralph Waldo Emerson– three of his Propositions – with poems by Seamus Heaney and Mahmoud Darwish and a Native American lullaby. The prevailing tone is sombre and introspective, so the whole sequence becomes a meditation on the way we perceive the world around and how we relate to it.

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