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"Sept papillons" was the first piece Saariaho wrote after her opera "L'Amour de loin" and it was partly written during the rehearsals of the opera in Salzburg. One can sense the desire to find a new world which has nothing to to do with the opera neither in style nor in language. From the metaphors of the opera which all have an eternal quality - love, yearning and death - she moved now to a metaphor of the ephemeral: butterfly.
Also, from the long time-spans of the opera she moved to these seven miniatures, which each seem to be studies on a different aspect of fragile and ephemeral movement that has no beginning nor end.