• Jouni Kaipainen
  • Carpe Diem, Op. 38 (1990)

  • Edition Wilhelm Hansen Copenhagen (World)
  • Clarinet
  • 26 min

Programme Note

Carpe diem! gives the impression of summing up all that the composer has written to date. More than in any of his earlier works Jouni Kaipainen (b. 1956) seems in his clarinet concerto to be giving an account of his experiences as a composer and a human being. Its global embrace, its sweeping landscape thus has something Mahlerian about it, “all the world at a glance”.

Ladders to Fire (1979) for two pianos, the orchestral settings of texts by René Char (1978-1980), the Symphony (1985), the third string quartet (1984) and Carpe diem! (1990) will at some point in the future come to be regarded as milestones in Kaipainen’s early period.

The concerto is in three movements, the last two following on from one another without a break. The composer himself has simply numbered them I and II. The broad opening movement has certain elements of sonata form: an exposition, development and recapitulation. A short introduction leads into the “main theme”, or rather the Leitmotiv that is to reappear in the other movements, too. The shape of the theme is somewhat akin to the sweeping main theme of Debussy’s Rhapsody.

The second striking feature of the first movement is the multiphonic chorale theme on the clarinet, which casts a distinct shadow over the otherwise light and airy mood.

The short second movement hovers between two extremes: the orchestra hammering away with all its force and lyrical comments on the clarinet, in which Kaipainen, who is a master of the dodecaphonic tradition, admirably displays his natural feeling for melody. The central movement of the concerto is reminiscent both of a slow movement and of a bridge passage. The linear, horizontal progression gradually gives way to a vertical, time-chopping rhythm.

The motifs of the bridge passage leading into the third movement reach higher and higher to the mouth of the crater, from which the finale erupts: a true “Danse sacral” or rhythmic rite that carries the concerto to a frenzied conclusion.

The solo part to this concerto, produced in the laboratory by the composer and clarinetist Kari Kriikku, demands every ounce of the performer’s skill and more besides. In order to handle both the speed and agility of the solo part and the stagnant calm of the micro-interval chorale, the soloist needs not only a sound helping of Till Eulenspiegel but also a pinch of the cantor of St. Thomas’s.

Lauri Otonkoski