I began to work on the YTA series in 1982. The first piece was for solo alto flute, the second for piano and the third, as performed this evening, for cello. The title, ‘Yta’, is in Swedish, and means ‘surface’. I wanted to write very demanding virtuoso music, where the surface is extremely busy, but the formal process, partly hidden behind the frenetic stream of fast gestures, is considerably slower.
YTA III is the only instrumental work of mine with any kind of programmatic content. I tried to imagine what happens to the famous moth, that circles around a lamp in Skryabin’s ‘Vers a flamme’, after the wings have finally touched the flame. A series of gestures is introduced in the beginning. Each gesture undergoes an individual development, culminating in spasms before dying away. YTA III is a study of the death of an organism; the ugliest and most violent piece I’ve written.
© Esa-Pekka Salonen