• Jouni Kaipainen
  • Ladders to Fire, Op. 14 (1979)

  • Edition Wilhelm Hansen Copenhagen (World)
  • 2pf
  • 25 min

Programme Note

Concerto for 2 pianos

The title of this piece, Ladders to Fire, is a quotation of a novel by Anais Nin. Even if some echoes of its extreme passion of life might be heard especially in the 1st movement of this concerto, the quotation is, and should be understood as a quotation of a manipulating title, and not of anything more than that.

The main idea of this concerto is textural polarity between the two pianos, and subsequent tension between the players. This polarity takes different forms in the three movements of this piece:

1st movement (Passionate polaritie) consists of an introduction, three expositions, three canons and a developing section. The introduction as well as each one of the expositions presents first a very wild and sharp form of the textural polarity, and then undergoes a process of softening down the tension to a zero point, i.e. a point where both players actually “do the same thing”. This is what the canons stand for. Therefore, whenever a new exposition (and thus a new polarity) starts, the tension must be felt very strongly, and the textual differences of the parts must be performed most clearly and obviously; on the contrary, in the canon sections the players must be as much “alike” as possible (play “like a machine”), and all “personal interpretation” is strictly forbidden.

2nd movement (Emotive expansion) contains much of the same (or at least same kind of) material as the 1st one, but the textural polarity lies deeper in the music. And although a situation of two rivals is also here present, the main concept of this movement is much more co-operative than that of the 1st movement. The role of the 2nd movement in the macro-structure of the whole piece is a rest between two quite dramatic movements, between a development and a “recapitulation”.

3rd movement (Sequential solutions) has an open form. It consists of six different sections (A to F), of which the five first (A to E) can be performed in any order except A-B-C-D-E or E-D-C-B-A: going straight from D to A is also forbidden. The sixth section (F) must always be performed as the last one. Each one of these sections represents one single “solution” to the problems that have come forth during playing the two first movements, and thus it is the players’ duty to put these “solutions” in an order that reflects their idea about the macro-structure of this concerto. So, as anybody can easily see, the role of the players in making decisions about the macrostructure of this piece grows (or increases) all the time while playing the piece. (Naturally, the decisions of the players have be made before a performance)