The works in the series called Yta really began as a sort of protest. In the late seventies and early eighties the hyper-complex postserialist school kept churning out solo pieces said to operate at, say, sixteen or twenty-four independent levels of expression. My heretical reaction, practical man that I am, was to say that if you really need all those independent planes, then why not write for twenty-four instruments? But practical men have never enjoyed any of the glory in the postserial world: that is something I do know.
Yta, meaning “surface” in Swedish, is a name shared these three virtuosic pieces and the principle governing their form. I wanted the form (which in these pieces is equivalent to the process) to be constantly audible, in other words on the surface, and no hidden structure. Everything is transparent, and the listener has no difficulties following the process because there is only one musical plane.
I envisaged the surface as non-static, i.e. more like the sea than a wall. The from/process is thus by nature statistical, not dialectical. That means no phrases or harmonic tensions, but instead various musical situations, categories that climax one at a time until all the categories have culminated. That’s where the piece ends.
Yta II has five categories: trill, arpeggio, little cluster, the note C and scale. The culmination of each category is such that the role played by one category in the stream of music grows and that of the others shrinks until a “pure” state is reached in which only one thing is done, and in one way. I wrote most of Yta II in a summer-house presented by King Gustavus III to count Silfverstolpe (who distinguished himself as Constanze Mozart’s lover) at Näs Manor near Stockholm, and the work seems to have caught something of the Rococo frivolity and aesthetic.
Yta II is deidcated to Ilmo Ranta, who premiered it at his debut concert.
© Esa-Pekka Salonen, 2002