”Skärgården is a virtuoso piece for three plucked string instruments – guitar, kantele and harpsichord, written for trio Archipelago in Autumn 2019. In the terms of melodic affectivity, sound color and dynamics the instrumental combination is challenging. My compositional stategy was to turn the instrumentations' obvious weaknesses into strength: if there were to be a cornucopia-scaled abundance of plucking efforts and sounds, let's exaggerate that into extreme! The main vehicle for realizing this strategy was the harpsichord, which produces a practically unbroken continuum of rapid patterns of notes for the 8-minute duration of the piece.
Set against the harpsichord are the guitar and kantele, which function more or less as a pair in the piece, focusing on the melodic elements and producing polyrhythmic and polymetric rhythmic surface against the harpsichord's stable movement. The polymetric approach makes Skärgården a tricky piece to play. For the most of time guitar and kantele have an independent meter in relation to the harpsichord, and the responsibility of keeping the piece together lies on the harpsichordist, who should be able to play rapid texture (mostyly fast quintuplets) in absolute tempo for several minutes – a challenge that I don't personally envy.
Skärgården – when played right – is a virtuosic, smooth, energetic and entertaining piece of music yet revealing a serious and devilishly difficult study of polyrhythmics, polymetrics and rhythmic modulations lying under the seductive and easy-to-approach surface. Having focused predominantly on sound color, studied multiphonics and harmonics and experimented with different temperaments in recent years, it was great fun to write a shameless straight-forward virtuoso piece for a change, with lots of notes and energy in the same spirit than in the accordion showcase piece Pirun keuhkot (The Devil's Lungs), which I wrote more than a decade ago.” (O.V. October 2019)
for guitar, concert kantele and harpsichord.