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Aki Rissanen – Omniwerk Impressions

Finland |

Extraordinary pianist and premiere of the unique Omniwerk instrument

The new music for Omniwerk, written by Finnish-born pianist and keyboardist Aki Rissanen, originates from a contrasting duality. An older, classical sound reminiscent of the baroque and renaissance era is combined with a minimalist influence and impression of an electronic abstraction. It’s this blend that gives Aki his distinctive sound and identity. Conceptually, it’s bursting with originality and integrity, his playing is rhythmic and shining with brilliance. Acoustic renaissance techno - madrigals meet minimalism- if you want to put it that way!

Finnish instrument builders Jonte Knif and Jukka Ollikka combined two historical keyboard instruments – the Geigenwerk (or Viola Organista, originally a Leonardo da Vinci’s invention) and the Lautenwerk (baroque era keyboard lute, J.S Bach’s favourite instrument) – into one, new instrument.

In the first place it was Sławomir Zubrzycki’s work on creating a viola organista which proved the inspiration for Ollikka, when he realised he could combine a geigenwerk with a lauternwerk. They both have gut strings and share the same tuning, so a “lautengeigenwerk” seemed a possibility.  The Omniwerk has two manuals – one for each “werk“- which can be played at the same time, producing a remarkable range of sounds.

At this day, there exists only one, unique Omniwerk which is located in Helsinki. Jukka Ollikka will construct an another Omniwerk for Aki Rissanen’s use in Prague in 2023. The mechanism of the future instrument will be technically improved in many ways, especially the Geigenwerk part.

Aki Rissanen has played the original instrument at a number of concerts and festivals in Finland during the last years. It is a part of Aki’s recent solo record ‘Divided Horizon’, released in September 2021 on Edition Records.

Finnish born, Helsinki and Paris based Aki Rissanen (b. 1980) has released five albums as a leader on British Edition Records, four trio albums and one solo album. Although originally classically trained he always had an interest in improvised music. In addition to his high merits in the Solo Piano Competition at the Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland and La Defense competition in France, Rissanen is known for his works with Verneri Pohjola (on ACT Music in Germany and on Edition Records) and with Dave Liebman (on Ozella Music in Germany).

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