In 1996 I joined the trombonist Christian Lindberg in Lahti in Finland for the recording of ‘Lindberg plays Sandström’ [BIS-CD-828]. At an outdoor concert during my visit, a performance by Harri Lidsle, the tuba player of the Lahti Symphony Orchestra, was met by huge enthusiasm from the audience – including myself. When Harri expressed the wish for a concerto for tuba and orchestra, this became the impulse for The Lemon House.
The actual composition didn’t take place until 2002, however. As with several of my works, its title was inspired by a travel memory. While staying in the beautiful port town of Sóller on Majorca in the summer of 2000 I was sketching a set of solo pieces for clarinet. My plan was to write one short piece for each day – fourteen in all. Their titles were chosen from the impressions received on the given day: Day 1 – Los Medusas en el Puerto (The Jellyfish in the Harbour); Day 2 – Consum (the Sóller supermercado); Day 3 – Old Man with Garage, and so on. During the lazy hours passed on the terrace my attention would always be drawn to an imposing building situated high up on the other side of the inlet. A seemingly inaccessible, enigmatic building, painted in the most beautiful yellow colour. The Lemon House, as we came to call it, gave its name to Day 14.
The suite for clarinet never materialized. The title ‘The Lemon House’ came to live on in that part of the brain where names of possible future works are stored, however, and during the composition of the tuba concerto it leaped out of hiding.
In the end the piece didn’t have a Lahti première, but received its first performance much later, by the same soloist who has recorded it here. And as I’m writing these notes, I haven’t actually heard the piece performed except in my own head, and am very excited at the prospect of playing the disc.
My inner thoughts: the music follows harmonic paths to which the soloist gives colours, opening new gates. Closes and opens. We drive on, heading the rental car upwards along the winding road. Towards the Lemon House.