Je chante la chaleur désespérée Op. 16

by Jouni Kaipainen

Empty sheet

Jouni Kaipainen

Je chante la chaleur désespérée Op. 16

Edition Wilhelm Hansen


Je chante la chaleur désespérée [I Sing of the Warmth of Despair] does not have a Finnish title, since the title is a ‘quasi quotation’ of the French poet René Char. The original aphorism goes: Je chante la chaleur à visage de nouveau-né, la chaleur désespérée. The idea of the face of a newborn baby forms the basis of my piece. The moment of birth is certainly the most dramatic in a human being’s life, but as far as the parents are concerned, the moment is also filled with the most tender and warm feelings possible. This is why the piece almost merely consists of things with extreme feelings and also (extreme) tempi.

© Jouni Kaipainen

I have given this piano piece of mine a French title, which is English would be something like ‘I sing of the Warmth of Despair’. The title is a quotation of the French poet René Char. This poet has for a long time been one of the main influencers in my compositional as well as artistic development: I have written a suite of orchestral songs (Op.12a) in his texts, and I have titled my opuses 12b, 16 and 17 after him.

I have now and then been told that the fact that a composer resorts to poets when searching for a title is a prominent proof of spiritual laziness. But, personally, I do not find this any kind of a problem. Anyway, in my case, the composition itself is always the important part, upon which I concentrate my forces, and if it happens, after a strength-demanding period of composing, that I find finding a title unfairly difficult, I right away turn to the professionals of using words, i.e. poets. Besides, I personally feel that quite a many of Char’s ideas have some kind of correspondence in my scores.

Je chante la chaleur désésperée is a piece of ‘absolute piano music’, lasting for about 10 minutes. Characteristic to the piece is the fact that, properly, it only includes sections of extreme tempi, viz. very slow or very fast. As a culmination of this polarity, we can feel the ending of the piece, where, after a rapid, breathless allegro, we hear an utmostly slow, immaterial coda.

Strong human feelings tend to be manifold; they, as things in general, have numerous different sides. I think this is why Char writes about ‘the warmth of despair’ which, according to the poet, appears e.g. in the face of a newborn baby. Perhaps this image helps somebody to understand also my ideas.”

© Jouni Kaipainen




Works for Solo Instrument

Opus no.



Tarja Penttinen, Helsinki, October 19, 1981.

Commisioned by / dedications

Commissioned by the Association of Finnish Soloists.

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