Saariaho: La Passion de Simone
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.