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Seppo Pohjola composed his fifth string quartet in winter 2018. He was inspired to write it by a visit to the van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam the previous year, where he was greatly impressed by the vast, comprehensive retrospective and especially the horrifyingly honest self-portraits. The soft opening tones bear an instruction alluding to Schönberg’s Verklärte Nacht string sextet: the quiet music must be richly shaded. Dur. 20 minutes.
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Seppo Pohjola


Seppo Pohjola (born May 4, 1965) studied composition at the Sibelius Academy in 1990–94 under Paavo Heininen and Erkki Jokinen. In 1991 Pohjola debuted with his String Quartet No. 1 and in 1995 he held a composition concert together with Jukka Koskinen at the Helsinki Festival.

Pohjola began his career as a composer in a strict modernist spirit. The first signs of his softer style were heard in the String Quartet No. 2 (1995) and Game Over (1996) for chamber ensemble.

String Quartet No. 3 (2000) was a significant turning point for Pohjola who at the time felt trapped under the pressure of absolute demands. He decided that the quartet would be created in a more leisurely manner and the 15-minute piece emerged painlessly in a couple of months. Seppo Pohjola’s monumental String Quartet No. 4 was completed in 2006. It is the first example of Pohjola’s compositional canon technique, which is important to him. The critics hailed it as a landmark in Finnish quartet literature. It was followed by a long gap, after which String Quartets Nos. 5–7 were created at a swift pace. The first four string quartets have been recorded by the Kamus Quartet and the CD has received high acclaim.

Seppo Pohjola has also composed symphonies, concertos for piano, violin and cello as well as operas. His latest commission was Juuret (Roots) premiered by the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra in the Helsinki Variation work series.

Alba Records has released several discs of Pohjola’s music and Fennica Gehrman has published his string quartets.



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