Veli-Matti Puumala (1965)

Seeds of Time (2004)

concerto for piano and orchestra

  • General information
    • Composition date: 2004
    • Duration: 40 mn
    • Publisher: Fennica Gehrman, Helsinki
    • Commission: Orchestres symphoniques de Helsingborg, d’Oulu, de Sjaelland et de Stavanger pour Roland Pöntinen, Hannu Lintu et Susanna Mälkki, avec le soutien de NOMUS
    • Dedication: à Antti Puumala
Detailed formation
  • soloist: 1 piano
  • 3 flutes, 3 oboes, 3 clarinets, 3 bassoons, 4 horns, 2 trumpets, 3 trombones, 1 tuba, 1 timpani, 3 percussionists, 1 harp, 1 piano [droit] , 9 violins, 9 second violins, 6 violas, 6 cellos, 4 double basses

Premiere information

  • Date: 28 November 2004

    Suède, Helsingborg, festival Nordic Music Days


    Roland Pöntinen : piano, orchestre symphonique de Helsingborg, direction : Hannu Lintu.


L’orchestre est divisé en plusieurs petits groupes. Au cours de la pièce, ceux-ci fusionnent jusqu'à finir en orchestre de chambre.

Table of contents

  1. Turba
  2. Premura
  3. Tra le Braccia della Notte


Program note

First ideas for my new work Seeds of Time came in Autumn 2002, when Hannu Lintu proposed me to write a piano concerto. My first concern was how to add my own fingerprint to the continuum of the tradition. An idea of a great virtuoso struggling against the orchestra like an individual against society felt unfamiliar, although this is a central idea in many concertos (in Elliot Carter’s, for example). Thus it was quite clear from the beginning that I would divide the orchestra in smaller groups and separate a group of soloists from the orchestra. In addition to Solo Piano, also Clarinet/Bass clarinet, Trumpet, Timpani and Violin have solo parts. Each instrument has its own prominent section in the work. There are three larger ensembles in the piece: ”Chamber Orchestra”, Double Septet and Triple Trio. In addition to these ensembles and soloists there are also various groups and some of them fuse into the Chamber Orchestra as the work proceeds.

Due to this structural decision there is no actual Tutti on the whole piece. As to instrumentation, the work has seven sections. The first of them contains all ensembles. Step by step the orchestration gets thinner and in the end there is only Solo Piano, Timpani and a Triple Trio consisting of three bassoons, trombones and violas. Solo Piano is playing almost without interruption but the role of the Soloist changes. In the beginning of the piece Piano part is only a tiny component of a textural chaff but it’s role comes clearer. The most virtuosic sections are in the middle of the piece.

The work is played without interruption but it is however divided in several sections. For the listener the division in two is perhaps the most obvious. Nevertheless, I have divided the work in three parts which all have descriptive titles. The first two, ”Turba” and ”Premura” are fast, the last ”Il Braccio della Notte” is slow.

The first part Turba lasts about one fifth of the total duration of the piece and the title refers to a mental of physical disorder. Music is very atomistic, frgamentary and discontinual. The title of the next part, Premura, refers to haste and hurry but also to attentiveness. The music is based on almost unbreaken flow of sixteenth-note movement. The musical figures grow larger than in the first movement. The duration of the second part is about one third of the total duration. The continuous movement stops in the third movement Il Braccio della Notte, The Arms of the Night. The character of the music is more concentrated and the tones get softer.
The three-part form described above is interrupted by stationary images which are like window frames from where it is possible to peer to another time, to a time that does not move but simply is. I think everyone has thought about a possibility to stop in the middle of all rush. At the same time these windows try to question the necessity of dynamic conception of form. Many of us suffer from a constant lack of time. This work wants to speak for time-out.
What are Seeds of Time? The dimensions of musical time and its relations to our everyday life have begin to interest me more and more. Are those seeds audible in the small shivers in the beginning of the work, or are they hidden in the extremely slow images that break the flow of movement?

Veli-Matti Puumala.