Veli-Matti Puumala (1965)

Taon (1998 -2000)

concerto for double bass and chamber orchestra

  • General information
    • Composition date: 1998 - 2000
    • Duration: 33 mn
    • Publisher: Fennica Gehrman, Helsinki
    • Commission: Tapiola Sinfonietta
Detailed formation
  • soloist: 1 double bass
  • 2 flutes (also 2 piccolos, 1 alto flute), 2 oboes (also 1 English horn), 2 clarinets (also 1 E-flat clarinet, 1 bass clarinet), 2 bassoons (also 1 contrabassoon), 1 horn, 2 trumpets, 1 percussionist, 6 violins [violons A] (also 1 other percussion [violon A1] ), 9 second violins [violons B] (also 1 other percussion [violon B1] ), 5 violas [2 A, 3 B] (also 1 other percussion [alto B1] ), 3 cellos [1 A, 2 B] (also 1 other percussion [violoncelle A] ), 3 double basses

Premiere information

  • Date: 14 April 2000

    Finlande, Espoo, Tapiola Sinfonietta


    Panu Pärssinen : contrebasse et l’ensemble Tapiola Sinfonietta, direction : Martyn Brabbins.

Table of contents

  • I. Nervoso
  • II. Chants sacrés
  • III. Kadenz
  • IV. Forward


Program note

It was clear from the start that the piece would require a brilliant player but that it would not contain any of the showy gestures of a 19th century concerto. I also wanted to continue and work on some of the spatial ideas I had used in a few of my previous works for orchestra. I therefore collected a little stage orchestra round the soloist, placed two string nonets at the edges of the platform and two wind duos in the balcony. I was chiefly thinking of the movement of sound in the II and IV movements and various types of discourse between the soloist and different sections of the orchestra.

The first movement is based almost entirely on flageolet sounds. It begins somewhere in the other world, the 'upper spheres', and gets hotter and more concrete as the journey proceeds. The double bass is the focal centre of this movement and the stage orchestra seeks contact with it. The set-up in the second movement is slightly different. To begin with the soloist hums along on his own, but the orchestral texture gradually grows richer and the double bass really has to fight to hold on to his place as soloist. Towards the end of the orchestral intermezzo the double bass joins in not as a soloist but as one solo voice together with the bass clarinet and later the other solo groups. The set-up of the second movement is in fact possibly closer to that of a concerto grosso than of a solo concerto, since the vying with the other instruments continues right up to the great orchestral tutti with which the movement ends. The movement falls into two sections, each exploring the potentialof the double bass from slightly different angles. In the finale the double bass is led via several types of provocation until it is at last allowed to say what it wants without being disturbed.

Veli-Matti Puumala.