Conte, op. 27, was commissioned by the Sibelius Academy of Helsinki, to be one of two interchangeable obligatory contemporary numbers in Maj Lind Piano Competition for young talented Finnish pianists. I wrote the piece in the beginning of the year 1985; the competition took place a year later.
‘Conte’ is the French word for ‘a story’ or ‘a fairy tale’. This does not mean that I am trying to tell any specific story with the music. The title refers to two things, mainly. On the one hand, both the harmonic and the textural colouring of the piece are connected with the world of fairies and trolls. On the other hand, musical ideas in this piece are treated in a way, which inevitably brings to my mind the oral tradition of story-telling – formally speaking. Conte has ties with the ways in which rambling, fantastic stories are told. The small musical cells are like persons in a story, more or less important, and every story has its own fate. These individual fates collide with each other in a more or less random, capricious way, and cause continuously new situations for the principal figures. The net is always moving – after all, no one can be the same before and after an important meeting.
On the level of the sounding surface, I guess that the most important feature of Conte is a certain nervousness, a kind of electric swarming, which is due to the characteristics of the chosen material itself. Nor do the stories of a good story-teller get stuck.