Veli-Matti Puumala (1965)

Umstrichen vom Schreienden (1997 -1998)

for cello sextet

  • General information
    • Composition date: 1997 - 1998
    • Duration: 20 mn
    • Publisher: Fennica Gehrman, Helsinki
    • Commission: West Helsinki Music Institute
Detailed formation
  • 6 cellos

Premiere information

  • Date: 18 May 1998

    Finlande, Helsinki


    Anssi Karttunen, Timo-Veikko Valve, Louna Hosia, Tuukka Helminen, Jukka Rautasalo et Laura Saari.

Program note

Something clear, sliding and gliding, yet at the same time severe and unconditional. These were the images uppermost in my mind on completing my cello sextet Umstrichen vom Schreienden. The piece had a German feel about it, so after searching at length for a name, I decided on a fragment from the poem Am Turme by Annette von Droste-Hülshoff.

The work was born as the result of something in the nature of a cleansing rite. While doing some counterpoint exercises, I tried to break away from the sound world of my previous big work for orchestra (Chainsprings 1995/97) and from the complex textural, formal and aesthetic solutions employed in it.

The first half of the Canons movement consists of a strict triple canon for three pairs of cellos and of solo snatches above and below this texture that are allowed more space in the latter half of the movement. The second movement is a six part fugue; towards the end the dense polyphony falls apart, making way for the singing closing movement. Caudæ begins in somber hues but grows brighter towards the end as the melodic mood becomes increasingly expressive.

The sextet was originally commissioned for student cellists, but even so it did not end up as an easy new music look-alike for young people. On the contrary, it was, defying all risks, written for intrepid young cellists at the West Helsinki Music Institute and their mentor, Anssi Karttunen. The players in this performance are slightly older but they, too, have their roots in the said Music Institute.

Veli-Matti Puumala.