by Matthew Whittall

for harp

Empty sheet

Matthew Whittall



The slow-moving changes between seasons at Nordic latitudes have
always been an object of great musical fascination to me, especially the
long, almost grudging progression from winter to spring. One of the
clearest signs of spring in southern Finland is the blooming of the
anemone nemorosa, or wood anemone, known more poetically as the
windflower. One of the first wildflowers to appear as winter’s hold
finally releases, they soon cover the sunny patches of the otherwise
bare forest floor with their delicate white blossoms, bringing with them
all manner of new life. When asked for a solo piece by harpist Vuokko
Ahtila, whose first name is the Finnish word for this flower, I knew
immediately what to call it.

The music starts hesitantly, with static, whirling figurations around
chromatic pitch groups, as if resisting the harp’s more traditionally
euphonious idiom. Gestures start out angular and dissonant, volatile,
the quality of light veering between muted grey and piercing paleness.
The atmosphere throughout is one of suspended flow. Very gradually, the
material “thaws”, slowly ceding to the instrument’s nature as it becomes
warmer and more diatonic, eventually flowering into a carpet of sound
reaching off into the distance.




Works for Solo Instrument


Vuokko Ahtila, September 25, 2022, Helsinki

Commisioned by / dedications

Commissioned by and dedicated to Vuokko Ahtila.

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