2003 (12 minutes)
Composed for: Works for Band/Wind/Brass Ensemble
First performed: Members of the Avanti! Chamber Orchestra, Helsinki Conservatory, 30 November 2003
Instrumentation: flute (doubling alto flute), oboe (doubling cor anglais), clarinet, bassoon (doubling contrabassoon), horn
Salonen composed Memoria as a gift for the 20th anniversary of the Avanti! Chamber Orchestra. It was premiered in a programme that also included Berio's Laborintus II, another work that deals with memory. Salonen was one of the founders of Avanti!, and for Memoria, he turned to material that had been percolating in his memory over the course of the ensemble's history (the score is dated ‘Helsinki 1982 - Los Angeles 2003’).
© Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra
Salonen: ‘Memoria, a Wind Quintet in one movement, is remotely related to a piece of mine from 1982, Mimo. I managed to finish only the first half of it partly because of my suddenly full conducting diary, and partly because of a cumbersome aesthetic crisis that I had started to develop at that time. In the summer of 2003 I wanted to write some chamber music before embarking on a large-scale, complex orchestral project. I found the over twenty-year old manuscript of Mimo in my archives, and decided to finish the composition. At the end there was almost nothing left of the old quintet: maybe some kind of a ritualistic atmosphere and some textural aspects, very little else. I rewrote every note. The fast music that gradually grows out of the slow did not exist in Mimo at all.
The basic character of Memoria is serious, sometimes even sad, despite the short fast sections, where the playful divertimento character (typical of the ensemble) flickers by like flashing. The title Memoria refers to two things: partly to some sweet-and-sour memories from more than twenty years ago, partly to the death of Luciano Berio, the great Italian composer, whose music I greatly admire.
The chorale at the end of Memoria is a lament to the memory of Berio, as a gesture a bit like the end of Stravinsky’s Symphonies of Wind Instruments, where Stravinsky mourns the death of his friend Debussy. For some reason, those chords in the last half minute of Memoria have found their way into two other works of mine. Some processes seem to need time.’
Published by: Chester Music Limited
Copyright: Esa-Pekka Salonen