Petal 005

Helsinki Cello Ensemble: Works for 2-8 cellos

Heininen, Lindberg, Ortiz, Puumala, Saariaho, Taira

Helsinki Cello  Ensemble

All pieces on this CD are world premiere recordings.


Kaija Saariaho: Neiges, for 8 cellos

When thinking about the ensemble of eight cellos, my first ideas went to dark and matt textures. I also felt like going back to some ideas on symmetry. While reflecting on all this, I noticed snowflakes falling from the dark finnish autumn sky. Concentrating myself on snow, and its different forms, the idea of writing variations around this theme started to crystallize in my mind.

Nuages de neige (Clouds of Snow) is from a uniform and linear texture in which I realize my first impressions on this ensemble.

The two Etoiles de neige (Stars of snow) are based on ideas about symmetry and repetition: the first, is an evolving process which after a point folds backward and repeats itself in retrograde; the second, consists of eight parts in which a harmonic structure repeats itself together with a linear gesture which progressively invades the music.

Aiguilles de glace (Icicles) focalises in superposed pizzicati and ostinati.

In Fleurs de neige (Flowers of Snow) I wanted to recapture the harmonics trills that close the first movement, but in a more contrasting and spaced manner.

Kaija Saariaho


Yoshihisa Taira: Hierophonie I, for 4 cellos

In March 1986, when his new piece Hierophonie I was being premiered at the Musique à découvrir Festival, Taira wrote : « What music means to me, I often wonder. Maybe the instinctive, intimate prayer that allows me to be. Around me floats an intensity of sounds, some of which touch me more intensely than others. To start making music, is to me the same as to listen attentively to each of the sounds which I have remembered. Their respiration generates spontaneous movements which mutually correspond to each other and which arise to oppose silence which in turn is, also, one must admit, beholder of a breath of life ».

Paavo Heininen: A Couplet - An Octet, for 8 cellos

The two works of the finnish composer Paavo Heininen were originally composed for a string orchestra. Lamentation and Praise was composed in 1995. The version for string orchestra of Lamentation and Praise was premiered in Paris by the Ensemble Dyonisos, conducted by Henri-Claude Fantapié, on December 13th, 1995. Another version of this piece - for piano solo - was performed for the first time by Philip Mead on July 7th, 1996 at the Viitasaari Festival in Finland.

Om att hinna is in fact the fifth movement of a work called Five Lightings (opus 66f), written in 1998. The swedish title Om att hinna means roughly: « on being on time ». Each of the movements of the original piece have a title in a different language : spanish, french, german and english: de Noche and de Luz; De trouver; vom Wollen; of Night and of Shadow. Commissioned by the Turku Festival in Finland, Five Lightings was premiered on August 8th, 1998 by the Philharmonic Orchestra of Turku, conducted by Sakari Oramo.

The new titles given by Heininen to these two pieces transcribed for cello ensemble by Anssi karttunen are A Couplet (..of lamentation and praise) - An Octet (..upon time lost and gained) and as such they were first performed by the Helsinki Cello Ensemble in May 2000 in Beauvais, France.

Pablo Ortiz: Me dijo, for 8 cellos

The piece is based on a tango, Volvio una noche, by Carlos Gardel and Alfredo Le Pera. The text refers to a love affair gone sour some years before the story is told. In short, the woman shows up and tries to rekindle the fire. The man is skeptical: he says to her, everything is a lie anyway and whatever happened, it was long ago. The final words are: « Y con una mueca de mujer vencida (with a defeated woman's grimace) me dijo es la vida (she said to me, it's life) y no la vi mas (and I never saw her again) ». I took those three phrases and tried to depict them in an abstract way, strongly reminiscent of tango idioms, although removed enough so that the casual listener who doesn't know the story may not establish the relationship, necessarily. The piece is part of a group of works that I have been writing since 1993, informed by the idea of tango, exile and memory.

 Pablo Ortiz

Veli-Matti Puumala: Umstrichen vom Schreienden, for 6 cellos

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

Astor Piazzolla: Canto de Octubre, for 8 cellos

Canto de Octubre is here played in a transcription for 8 cellos, the original is for a string orchestra. The orchestra version has the first violins play the theme all the way through. In this version, I took advantage of the fact with these players it was possible to move the theme from one player to another and in this way capture everyone’s personality from within the rich sonority of the ensemble. One hardly pays attention to the player changing, but everyone brings a slightly different insight to the music.

Astor Piazzolla

The members of Helsinki Cello Ensemble performing in each piece are:

 Kaija Saariaho: Neiges, for 8 cellos

Anssi Karttunen, Taneli Turunen, Roi Ruottinen, Timo-Veikko Valve, Tomas Djupsjöbacka, Markus Hohti, Lauri Angervo, Louna Hosia


Yoshihisa Taira: Hierophonie I, for 4 cellos

Roi Ruottinen, Tomas Djupsjöbacka, Markus Hohti, Timo-Veikko Valve


Paavo Heininen: A Couplet - An Octet, for 8 cellos

Anssi Karttunen, Tomas Djupsjöbacka, Lauri Angervo, Taneli Turunen, Markus Hohti, Roi Ruottinen, Louna Hosia, Timo-Veikko Valve


Pablo Ortiz: Me dijo, for 8 cellos

Anssi Karttunen, Roi Ruottinen , Timo-Veikko Valve , Taneli Turunen, Lauri Angervo, Markus Hohti, Louna Hosia, Tomas Djupsjöbacka


Veli-Matti Puumala: Umstrichen vom Schreienden, for 6 cellos

Roi Ruottinen, Timo-Veikko Valve, Tomas Djupsjöbacka, Markus Hohti, Lauri Angervo, Anssi Karttunen, conducted by Jan Söderblom


Astor Piazzolla: Canto de Octubre, for 8 cellos

Anssi Karttunen, Roi Ruottinen, Tomas Djupsjöbacka, Taneli Turunen, Markus Hohti, Lauri Angervo, Louna Hosia, Timo-Veikko Valve