for small orchestra
When Ilkka Brotherus came to me with the idea of a commission that would somehow reflect our life at Erkylä Manor, a few notions immediately came to mind. There is a lot of colourful history associated with people who have lived at and around the manor over the centuries: ties to the courts of Sweden and Russia, academia, folk education, exploration, development aid, economics, politics and the origins of Finnish high culture. Concert Champêtre seemed like an excellent title for such a piece, drawing inspiration from the wonders great and small of the natural environment as well as of human existence.
The music in the first movement, Ouverture, could perhaps be described as a kind of Kalevala Baroque, with turns of phrase alluding to both runo singing and the world of the Brandenburg Concertos, the bassoons playing a key role.
The second movement, Metsäpolku (Forest path), brings mysterious and ominous tones to the music, with a dash of awe at the breathtaking beauty of nature. The Scherzo was motivated by thoughts of children at play, both human and animal. The Esko School in the grounds of Erkylä Manor, founded by General Munck, was one of the first primary schools in Finland. Towards the end of the movement there is a nod towards the Suvivirsi, the Summer Hymn which always concludes the school year in Finland and which I remember from my own school days as a powerful, happy symbol of the advent of summer.
The fourth movement, Kohtaus järvellä (Scene at the lake), is based on a story I once heard. The narrator, walking deep in thought on the shore of a lake, had suddenly come across a huge predatory bird emerging from the fog. After the initial shock, the narrator had had a strong sensation that the bird represented a final farewell from a family member who had died on the previous day. At the end of this movement, the bird takes wing and slowly rises towards the sky. The Finale of the piece opens with the instruction ‘Misterioso e fantastico’. This is music of the ancient spirits, shamans and primeval forests, very much in the spirit of the Kalevala. There are echoes of the previous movements here too, and after a palpable turning point the primeval shamanist music takes over and carries the work to an exuberant and joyous conclusion.
- Olli Mustonen
2103 0000 11 1, guit, pno, str [pic, cbsn]
Works for Orchestra or Large Ensemble
Helsinki Festival Orchestra, Olli Mustonen, cond. November 6, 2011, Helsinki
I Ouverture, II Metsäpolku, III Scherzo, IV Kohtaus järvellä, V Finale
Commisioned by / dedications
Dedicated to Ilkka Brotherus