“Mystery Variations” was a gift for Anssi Karttunen’s 50th birthday, masterminded by Kaija Saariaho and Muriel von Braun. They invited a number of his composer-friends to write short pieces for cello, using as a theme one of the first pieces written for the cello, the Chiacona by Giuseppe Colombi.
The Mystery Variations offer a unique look at the numerous ways of writing for the cello today. It is a kaleidoscopic look into the history through the eyes of 30 composers, and a look into the future through the music of Colombi. They can be programmed in different combinations, in small or large groups or as a whole concert.
“The range of responses to the source material was illuminating: Ms. Saariaho summoned ghostly whispers; Mr. Lindberg, crackling energy; Mr. Tan, antic strumming and ritualistic vocal shouts. Common to each was the composer’s obvious esteem for Mr. Karttunen’s abilities.”
–Steve Smith, The New York Times, May 2011