Sisar was commissioned by the Los Angeles Philharmonic; this is its first performance. The composer has provided the following note:
Sisar is the fifth and last piece in a series of short preludes for piano which I began almost ten years ago. Most of the pieces share material with larger projects from the same time; sometimes as testing ground for new ideas, sometimes as an afterthought, alternative reality.
Sisar belongs to the latter category. Its title has (at least) a double meaning: in Finnish ‘sisar’ means sister, in Spanish to steal or filch. Both make sense: Sisar is the little sister of my orchestra piece Nyx (a mysterious and obscure goddess figure in Greek mythology), and it steals some of its material from the bigger relative.
The character of Sisar is capricious and dream-like with sudden bursts of kinetic energy interlaced with more static, calmer music. Sometimes characters and gestures mutate gradually into something new, sometimes a new identity is introduced suddenly, like a montage or an edit in a film. I have long been interested in juxtaposing the musical metaphors of organisms and mechanisms in my music. The six-minute Sisar plays with these ideas in a very concentrated form.
Sisar is dedicated to Yefim Bronfman.
— Esa-Pekka Salonen