© Sampo Haapamäki 2023

säveltäjä composer

KIRJO (2006)

concerto for bass clarinet


soloist and 26 musicians:

solo bass clarinet +

2212/1 alto saxophone/2110/01/0, strings (2-2-3-4-2)

commissioned by and dedicated to Heikki Nikula

premiere: August 20, 2006

Avanti! chamber orchestra, cond. Susanna Mälkki

Heikki Nikula, bass clarinet

Helsinki Festival, Helsinki

January 17, 2008

Helsinki Philharmonia, cond. Dmitri Slobodeniouk

Heikki Nikula, bass clarinet

Finlandia House, Helsinki

Program notes

The name of the concerto, Kirjo (meaning approximately 'spectrum') alludes to the juxtaposition, simultaneity or interweaving of textures, styles and tempos. The different nature of the movements in relation to one another, and the spectral harmonies of the third movement further justify the title. In the second movement soloist improvises a cadenza.

During composing Kirjo I was studying first academic year in New York, in Manhattan, said to be the world in miniature. New York could be described more by the adjectives multicultural and multicoloured than by monocultural and homogeneous. Ethnic districts like Chinatown, Little Italy, Harlem and downtown give a physical shape to New York’s diversed melting pot character. To play with an idea: if one were to take New York as an analogy for the form of the composition, then it could become delightfully multicolored. I played this idea in my mind during composing the concerto Kirjo, and in fact challenged the boundaries of my concept of overall form.

Kirjo is dedicated to Heikki Nikula, who also commissioned it. Heikki is a versatile, experienced, brilliant musician. It was an honour to compose my very first concerto for him. The numerous sessions I spent with him before I started work and during the composition process itself made me aware of the potential of the bass clarinet, such as the fact that its register spans more than four octaves.

Sampo Haapamäki