Devil’s Gate (2014-15)

Christian Wetzel, oboe, Étienne Boudreault, bassoon, Risto-Matti Marin, piano (rehearsal)

oboe, bassoon, piano
12 min.
Published by Fennica Gerhman

Devil’s Gate (Pirun portti) is a mountain pass in Finnish Lapland, a beautifully picturesque spot accessible only by a two- to three-day hike. A deep cleft between two nearly symmetrical fells, the approach to it can be seen from quite some distance, beginning from the forested valley floor below where the trail starts, rising through a gently rocky slope up to the summer snow line. Though not a long or excessively challenging hike, the pass itself is deceptive, because every time it appears the crest is within reach, yet another slope is revealed. The terrain suddenly becomes rocky and uneven toward the end, with a last smooth ascent before finally passing through the top to a broad, deep dale and an endless, rolling vista of fells. (One does, of course, want to pause periodically to gaze back over the view and take photos.)

With this topography in mind I wrote this piece, packed with joyous, companionable music for the three instruments, in remembrance of a great day’s walking under sunny skies with a close friend. Devil’s Gate was commissioned by the Korsholm Music Festival in Vaasa, Finland, and was premiered there in August 2015.