The first works of Roland Pöntinen, not counting numerous compositional attempts of his childhood, were composed for his own jazz group, formed in 1981. The music was a mix of be-bop, fusion and Pöntinen’s own melodious style and scored for the flexible number of players in the band: piano, bass, drums, strings, saxophones, sometimes with an added flute or bassoon. One of these pieces, Camera, a continuous melody of eighty bars, never repeating any section, was later transformed into a work for trombone and piano, dedicated to Christian Lindberg. The extensive collaboration with Lindberg soon resulted in a bigger piece for trombone and strings, Blue Winter, which was written especially for Christian Lindberg’s CD The Winter Trombone but never performed live. Blue Winter was premiered more than ten years later in Philadelphia and in Carnegie Hall, New York, by trombonist Nitzan Haroz and The Philadelphia Orchestra under Wolfgang Sawallisch. Pöntinen writes music as often as his busy touring schedule as a concert pianist permits and even then only for his own pleasure or if a good friend like Martin Fröst or Håkan Hardenberger would ask him to. His undiminished interest in jazz and pop music has inspired him to write many arrangements of music by Kate Bush, Radiohead, David Bowie and others. His most recent achievement in this field are arrangements of songs by Weill, Legrand, Joni Mitchell i.e. written for Håkan Hardenberger and recorded by Hardenberger and Academy of St Martin-in-the-Fields on the CD Both Sides Now, (BIS SACD-1814).
Danse Serpentine was composed for clarinetist Martin Fröst and premiered by Fröst and the composer in Wigmore Hall in April 2010. The duo also played the piece in Cologne and Berlin. Hillary Finch wrote in The Times after the London premiere: ”Pöntinen’s own Danse Serpentine was written specially for this Wigmore Hall premiere, and its eight minutes of curves and flurries were an artfully shaped showpiece for both performers as tone-colourists.” A later version of this piece for violin, two pianos, celesta, vibraphone and marimba was premiered in Accademia di Santa Cecilia, Rome, in November 2010. The musicians were: Mats Zetterqvist, Roland Pöntinen, Roberto Prosseda, Alessandra Ammara, Anders Loguin and Rodolfo Rossi.