Interview with Patrik Kleemola (June 2018)
Welcome back to the Neuguitars Blog, Patrik. I have the pleasure to know you and your music from a long time and I was impressed by the cd “ Rites & Shades guitarworks by Kai Nieminen”, how did start the idea to release?
Thank you Andrea. “Rites & Shades” is a compilation of Kai Nieminen’s latest solo guitar works played by their dedicatees. A Walk to the Mysterious Woods (Guitar Sonata), which I’m playing on the disc, was actually recorded already in 2013 so I’m happy it finally found out its way to the public. The live version of the work has been on Youtube for quite a while.
Pilfink Records has been releasing Nieminen’s chamber music and orchestral works for many years so it was natural that also this program is now released by them.
How did you meet Kai Nieminen? What do you think are his main characteristics?
As a young student, this was about in 2003, I met Kai for the first time at a guitar weekend in Hartola in Finland. I wasn’t there actually taking lessons from him but while other students were busy after the lessons taking sauna and drinks, me and Kai ended up talking about Tõru Takemitsu and working on In the Woods all night long. It was interesting to hear things not only from the guitarist’s perspective but also from a composer’s point of view. I got a better idea how the music was constructed and ended up hearing the music more clearly and was able to draw more colours out of it. So the love for the music of Takemitsu is certainly what connected us in the first place.
One of the things I like about this cd is the interplay between Italy and Finland. I know that Patrik Kleemola is used to visit our country and that Marco Ramelli is used to play in Scotland, but how did start this collaboration between Italy and Finland?
I know that Kai has been visiting Italy for a long time and I have spent long periods there during my student days and also later playing concerts and giving masterclasses there. Italian art and literature are among the main inspirations for Nieminen’s music so I think it’s again a natural progression that he found the Italian collaborators and interpreters for these new works.
In this record you play a piece titled “Guitar Sonata A Walk to the Mysterious Woods”, what can you tell us about this passage?
Guitar sonata A Walk to the Mysterious Woods (2012-13) is the most extensive of the works Kai Nieminen has written for his own instrument, the guitar. The music invokes a fairytale-like scene of nature with its references to Finnish mythology.
Kai Nieminen’s guitar sonata is in four movements which follow each other attacca. The form of the work resembles the traditional sonata form: exposition (A Walk with Birdsong) ‒ development (Along the Brook and Song(s) from the Arctic) ‒ recapitulation (Return). The dark chords of the beginning, the pressing silence and the icy-sounding harmony created by the E flat bass line evoke an image of a winter forest. As if following birdsong, the music carries the listener through various landscapes and moods. Birdsong takes the listener to a brook, which then carries the traveller to the ancient Sami joik, a traditional form of chant, and allows him or her to bask in the serenity of natural beauty in a moment where the past and present meet.
And what do you think is the “function” of a moment of crisis?
When one has a difficult period in life it can make one ask what are the things that really matter. I’ve had a couple of those in my life and one of those I survived through music and the other one was to blame for my choice of becoming a musician…
What are your next projects? What are you working on?
As usual, I have many programs on the table. A few weeks ago I played a chamber music concert with Turku Ensemble (works by Matigka, Giuliani, Castelnuovo-Tedesco, Duda) and a couple of days ago I played in Germany at Oberstdorf ‘s Forum für Neue Musik Festival a program of works written for me by Finnish composers and a world premiere by Hans-Jürgen Gerung called Letzter frost which is based on three Finnish folksongs.
At the moment of writing this I’m preparing concerts with a trio of violin, cello and guitar. Beside the 19th century classics by Paganini and Giuliani we also have in the program a duo for violin and guitar that composer Pertti Jalava wrote for us.
Later in the spring and summer there’s more chamber music for cello and guitar including works such as Arpeggione Sonata by Schubert and Manuel De Falla’s Siete canciones. Early in June I’ll play a solo recital at Tampere Guitar Festival in Finland and in July I’ll play at Nauvo Chamber Music Festival. In August I’ll be playing concerts in Sweden and to Italy I’ll be returning early in December for Musiche in Mostra – Rive Gauche concerti in Turin and together with some other dates in Italy.
I’m also quite active on Youtube adding new contents every now and then and I should next finish the etude cycles by Brouwer and Carcassi.
Last question: I try to ask you about the J.P.Sartre’s three questions about literature: Why do you make music? And again: what is the place of those who make music in contemporary society? To what extent can music contribute to the evolution of this society?
For me music is the language that I can express most naturally and freely myself. Music is like a friend that never leaves you. I think music is about communication. That’s what happens in a concert situation when there’s a connection between the musician and the audience. That’s the sign that the music is speaking and people do have an universal need for that connection.