A Night at the Park Güell
Baryton (viola da gamba), Viola, Cello
Duration 20 min.
Commissioned by Markus Kuikka with funds from the Madetoja Foundation
First performance on May 23, 2009, in Helsinki, Finland by The Finnish Barytontrio: Markus Kuikka, baryton, Markus Sarantola, viola, Jussi Seppänen, cello
Recording: Luminous Baryton, Edition Troy EDTCD 002 (2012), The Finnish Barytontrio
In the early spring 2009 I was visiting Barcelona, where I dropped by a park designed by Antoni Gaudí, which combined fairy tale and surrealism and which was called Park Güell. Immediately when entering the park, I sensed its extraordinary atmosphere and I concluded that its musical counterpart would be most suitable for a commission work I was about to start. The park is filled with meandering pathways, pillars and ravines. Wandering there, one can never be sure what will reveal itself behind the next corner.
While contemplating the work with the commissioner, Markus Kuikka, it was brought up that the work would highly probably be performed along with Joseph Haydn’s baryton trios; Indeed, in his time, Papa Haydn had composed well over a hundred baryton trios for the court in Esterházy. My own musical style, however, appeared to steer the music so powerfully that any sort of direct connection to Haydn was out of the question. Instead, I could allude to Haydn’s time by employing a classical rondo form of sorts and by approaching tonality even powerfully in places, which is particularly perceptible in the park wanderer’s lullaby at the end of the work.
As a kind of fusion between the viol and the harp, the baryton’s world of pizzicato offers exceptionally plentiful and tempting possibilities. This aspect has received very particular attention in the composition process. The types of pizzicato produced by the trio are downright in the work’s leading part. As far as anybody knows, double and triple pizzicatos will now be employed on the baryton’s resonant strings for the first time in the instrument’s history. At the end of the work one may also hear harp-like pizzicato flageolets. The second distict characteristic of the work are the performers singing con bocca chiusa, which is suited to create a mysterious atmosphere on Park Güell’s nightly serpentine pathways. TR, 2009 (Translation © Lasse Kuikka)