valoa vasten aika / time through light

by Hannu Pohjannoro

Concerto for Horn Quartet and Orchestra

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Hannu Pohjannoro

valoa vasten aika / time through light

Fennica Gehrman


time through light / valoa vasten aika (2010-11)

Concerto for Horn Quartet and Orchestra (3323/0331/13/str)

time through light is a concerto for horn quartet and orchestra. I borrowed the idea to compose for such an ensemble from Schumann: after listening to his Konzertstück, I got the strong feeling that I had to do something like it… The conscious similarities with Schumann nevertheless extend no further than the ensemble – though I did omit horns from the orchestra, unlike Schumann, in order to enhance the quartet’s soloist role.

Concertante chamber music, in which some instrument or group of instruments one after the other assumes the role of soloist within the ensemble in the manner of a concerto is, to my mind, an interesting arrangement and one I had already used in several of my earlier works. The solo quartet is now a unit in itself, separate from the orchestra, but there is still an element of chamber music: the work has virtually no solos, i.e. “playing alone”, in the true sense of the word; rather, all four give voice at almost all the horn points, and things pass from one instrument to another, sometimes very rapidly, in the manner of chamber music. Thus no member of the quartet becomes the “leading soloist”, even though I have, out of respect for tradition, usually assigned the lowest notes to the fourth horn.

I can’t – and won’t – really give a proper explanation for the title. It does not pose a riddle to be solved; it just says something about the work’s initial images (though I didn’t in fact succeed in formulating the title until a week before the premiere). Natural light with its innumerable shades is, for me, an endlessly fascinating phenomenon; in order to appreciate its finesses, you have to stop, just look. (The same applies to sounds and music – you just have to listen.) Time is, in turn, a basic element of music and our very being, in music time is to my mind above all “experience time” determined primarily by feelings, recollections, expectations at each moment of the music, and not so much the equal-length seconds of a clock.

For the wording of the title I am indebted to Göran Tunström who, in a book entitled Talvimatka Intiaan (A Winter’s Journey to India) describes how “projects”, ambitious and major undertakings “in time shut out the little observations, the trivial messages left by rain and mist on the trunks of trees”. He likens such little observations to a jigsaw puzzle: “First the jigsaw has to be assembled, and then, so I imagine, you can begin to examine the shapes and colours of the individual pieces, hold them up to the light, settle on your campstool, -- and unhurried, unlaboured, observe their existence.”

Composing a concerto easily becomes what Tunström denotes a “project”, but listening to it does not need to be one. The jigsaw is finished; now is the time to examine it “…unhurried, unlaboured…”

Hannu Pohjannoro

(transl. by Susan Sinisalo, permission by Fennica Gehrman)


4 cor soli -3333-0331-timp-3perc-archi


Works for Soloist(s) and Orchestra


Tampere Philharmonic, sol. Tampere Philharmonic Horn Quartet (Ismo Ponkala. Pasi Tiitinen, Jouni Suuronen, Timo Ruskeepää), Ernest Martinez Izguerdo, conductor, 15 April 2011.

Commisioned by / dedications

Commissioned by Tampere Philharmonic Orchestra.

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