Songs of Empty Landscapes

by Joel Järventausta

for alto saxophone (or clarinet in Bb), piano, violin, viola, cello

Empty sheet

Joel Järventausta

Songs of Empty Landscapes

Music Finland


Songs of Empty Landscapes is a piece in 7 short movements - Prelude, Haze, Snowriver, Lullaby, Earth Red, Grey-Blue and Postlude. The piece was inspired by minimalist photography, specifically the nature images of Bruce Percy. These photographs depict a variety of different ‘empty’ landscapes from white snowy plains to vast deserted lands.

The music is not minimalist in style, however I did attempt to capture some of the vagueness, emptiness and apparent simplicity that these photographs, or indeed, any empty landscape evokes. Each movement is a piece of its own providing a window into one landscape, yet musical material is shared throughout the whole work. All movements deal with melody and lyricism, hence the reference to a song in the title.

I Prelude opens the piece with the lonesome singing of the violin.

II A thick texture dominates Haze. This is punctured by ringing chords, like church bells sounding in the mist.

III Snowriver is an abstract depiction of a cold running river in deep winter.

IV Lullaby is a slow, wistful piano trio.

V Earth Red is inspired by barren, scorched desert landscapes.

VI In Grey-Blue the fragile, melancholic soundworld, reflects upon undulating hills of snow-covered lands.

VII Postlude concludes the work, with the low humming of the cello.


asax/cl, pno, vln, vla, vlc


Chamber Works


Uusinta Ensemble, József Hárs, cond. Tampere Biennale, April 2, 2020, Tampere, Finland


1. Prelude, 2. Haze, 3. Snowriver, 4. Lullaby, 5. Earth Red, 6. Grey-Blue, 7. Postlude

Commisioned by / dedications

Commissioned by Uusinta Ensemble

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