Sebastian Hilli, who has risen to the forefront of young Finnish composers, has noted that he needs to have a clear-cut idea or concept on which to build a composition. Often starting with the title, his construction process varies quite a lot from one work to the next. Sonorities, colours and textures are important elements in Hilli’s music, whose expressive gamut ranges from frenetic pulsation to fragility on the threshold of hearing.
Hilli has so far confined his powerful imagery to instrumental music, whether for orchestra or various ensembles, with one glorious exception, Affekt (2017) for choir and orchestra. Hilli’s works have done well in competitions and reviews: Reachings (2014) or orchestra won the Toru Takemitsu Competition in Japan in 2015 and was nominated the winner of the category of composers under 30 at the international composer rostrum in 2017; he received the Gaudeamus Prize in the Netherlands in 2018, and his orchestral work Snap Music (2018) won the Teosto Prize in Finland in 2019.
The orchestral work Peach (2019) was commissioned by the Finnish Chamber Orchestra and premiered under Jukka-Pekka Saraste in Tammisaari in August 2019. The many meanings and associations of the word ‘peach’ led Hilli to conjure forth an airy, intense and captivating soundscape that he has compared to a hot summer’s day and the unreal sensations of feelgood and tingling in the body that it engenders.
Peach is a compact and dramaturgically uncomplicated structure. The slow evocative opening, where the melodic material blends into the texture, coalesces into a faster, energetically pulsating section that then is abruptly interrupted by a mysteriously expectant, static section. The music grows through waves of crescendo and diminuendo to a culmination and then grows quiet, like a vanishing mirage on a hot day.