by Tomi Räisänen

Organ Concerto

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Tomi Räisänen




Pulmo is an organ concerto about human organs. It has five movements, all played "attacca" without a pause. The first movement, Cor (heart), starts with heavy beats like a heart pumping blood. Later, the beating rhythm transforms into different kinds of marching music: first into a grotesque march and then a funeral march. The second movement, Cerebrum (brain), has rapid gestures and fast-moving passages as if electrical impulses make connections in brain cells. The third movement, Pulmo, means lungs: a classic symbol often connected with the massive apparatus of the organ. The music starts with expanding and diminishing chords as if the organ is inhaling and exhaling with the orchestra. Later, heavy breathing changes into coughing and, after rising tension, into hyperventilation. The movement ends with large spectral chords leading into the organ cadenza, Lamento: an unrelenting stream of falling tears. The fourth movement, Auris (ear), has a biographical background, hence the subtitle Autoritratto (a self-portrait). On one New Year's Eve, when I was a child, a firecracker exploded right next to my ear, and I got a lifelong partner from tinnitus (ringing in the ears). The movement starts with an orchestral explosion followed by a narrow-range cluster in the highest register. Like a thread of life, the organ plays a four-part chorale-like texture. The rest of the instrument groups appear briefly and somewhat randomly, maybe a bit like passing life events, to accompany the organ chorale. The final movement is called Ren (kidney). The music flows quickly like bodily fluids or blood cells in veins rushing through all the organs. The kidney's function is to excrete toxins from the body. Similarly, in this music, the dissonant chords get purified into a more consonant form. TR, 2023


3333 4331 12 1, str, org solo


Works for Soloist(s) and Orchestra


Winner of the grand prize in the International Kaija Saariaho Organ Composition Competition 2023


First performance on February 2, 2024, at the Helsinki Music Centre by Angela Metzger, solo organ and Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Christian Schumann


I. Cor, II. Cerebrum, III. Pulmo - Lamento, IV. Auris (Autoritratto), V. Ren

Commisioned by / dedications

In memoriam Kaija Saariaho (1952-2023)

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