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Concerto for Viola and Orchestra

Concerto for Viola and Orchestra


  • Instrumentation: alto et orchestre
  • Édition: matériel d'exécution

 
Description
The best way to describe my Viola Concerto might be to quote a couple passages from my diary, written while I was writing the concerto:

‘June 11, 1997: Last night I took out the few sketches I had made some months ago for the Viola Concerto. Though I had carried a pleasant memory of them, I was surprised at how inappropriate they now seemed. I was reminded of the foolish statement in Chapter Two of Don Quixote: “It was with great contentment and joy that he saw how easily he had made a beginning toward the fulfillment of his desire.” That’s how I had sustained the belief that the first four pages of the Concerto were valid. Really they were just a shot in the dark that went nowhere. So this morning I sat down and tried to begin again. That was a mistake. It’s impossible to begin something just because one wishes to begin it. So after an hour of skirmishing I turned to other matters. But the day amounted to nothing. I jumped from one thing to another every half hour: wrote a letter, watered the garden, slept... all the time haunted by the obsession that sooner or later I have to make a valid start on this new work.

June 22, 1997: Plodding on with the Viola Concerto. “Episodic” is the only word I can think of to describe it. Moments flash past, moods change rapidly. Will any of them return? Why should they? And so I let the work slide on without the slightest idea of where it will go or what I am doing.

June 26, 1997: “Chaotic” would be a better word to describe the Viola Concerto. I work at it ceaselessly and recklessly, diving from one thought to another like a fugitive running to a different hotel each night in an attempt to escape the law, really half wishing he would be caught to put an end to the squandering of energy. But the end will come, I can see it now, about two weeks away, looming up with an appalling display of tommy-guns and trumpets – the final shoot-out before the game is over. Then at least I'll put the first trashy draft aside and return to civilian life for a while. For diversion I’ve been going through some old diaries. I came across a little fragment, a squeaking sound I once heard on a train with a kind of fractured rhythm; it amused me enough to throw it into the concerto. (It’s announced first by the xylophone, and then later taken up by the piccolo and woodwinds half way through the piece.)

September 16, 1997: After the production of The Princess of the Stars I returned home and at once set to work on the Viola Concerto, though without enthusiasm, and only because a deadline has to be met. Now, two weeks into it, I am still dissatisfied. It seems to have disappeared into a fog, without discernible outline or substance. Not only do I have no idea where it is going, but I have no idea where it has been, since I haven't even the curiosity to look back at what has been written.

October 16, 1997: And so I have finished the rewrite of the Viola Concerto, precisely one month from the day I recommenced it. It is a long piece, half an hour, or perhaps a bit more. There are a few moments of relaxation in it, but with Rivka Golani as the soloist, I wanted to produce a vigorous, sensual sound, for such is the personality of the woman. It’s as if she is coming at you all at once. I have never known a musician so obsessed with her instrument. She talks about her viola as if it was her lover, and her appetite for new works is insatiable.‘

The whole work is based on a descending and ascending scale announced quite simply in the opening thirty seconds. I adhered to it vigorously, trying to find new ways of giving the sequence rhythmic vitality. It is the only unifying device in what has turned out to be a rather lengthy work. R. Murray Schafer
Détails
Année de composition: 1997
Auftragswerk : commissioned by the Esprit Orchestra
Durée de la performance: 27'0"
Maison d'édition: Arcana Editions
instrumentation: pic.1.1.ca.1.bcl.1.cbsn-2.2.2.0-timp.perc(xyl, vib, crash cym, sizzle cym, Thai gong, Wuhan gong, Bender gongs, tam-t, s.d, bng, tom-t, tubular chimes, wdbl)-hp-str
The best way to describe my Viola Concerto might be to quote a couple passages from my diary, written while I was writing the concerto:

‘June 11, 1997: Last night I took out the few sketches I had made some months ago for the Viola Concerto. Though I had carried a pleasant memory of them, I was surprised at how inappropriate they now seemed. I was reminded of the foolish statement in Chapter Two of Don Quixote: “It was with great contentment and joy that he saw how easily he had made a beginning toward the fulfillment of his desire.” That’s how I had sustained the belief that the first four pages of the Concerto were valid. Really they were just a shot in the dark that went nowhere. So this morning I sat down and tried to begin again. That was a mistake. It’s impossible to begin something just because one wishes to begin it. So after an hour of skirmishing I turned to other matters. But the day amounted to nothing. I jumped from one thing to another every half hour: wrote a letter, watered the garden, slept... all the time haunted by the obsession that sooner or later I have to make a valid start on this new work.

June 22, 1997: Plodding on with the Viola Concerto. “Episodic” is the only word I can think of to describe it. Moments flash past, moods change rapidly. Will any of them return? Why should they? And so I let the work slide on without the slightest idea of where it will go or what I am doing.

June 26, 1997: “Chaotic” would be a better word to describe the Viola Concerto. I work at it ceaselessly and recklessly, diving from one thought to another like a fugitive running to a different hotel each night in an attempt to escape the law, really half wishing he would be caught to put an end to the squandering of energy. But the end will come, I can see it now, about two weeks away, looming up with an appalling display of tommy-guns and trumpets – the final shoot-out before the game is over. Then at least I'll put the first trashy draft aside and return to civilian life for a while. For diversion I’ve been going through some old diaries. I came across a little fragment, a squeaking sound I once heard on a train with a kind of fractured rhythm; it amused me enough to throw it into the concerto. (It’s announced first by the xylophone, and then later taken up by the piccolo and woodwinds half way through the piece.)

September 16, 1997: After the production of The Princess of the Stars I returned home and at once set to work on the Viola Concerto, though without enthusiasm, and only because a deadline has to be met. Now, two weeks into it, I am still dissatisfied. It seems to have disappeared into a fog, without discernible outline or substance. Not only do I have no idea where it is going, but I have no idea where it has been, since I haven't even the curiosity to look back at what has been written.

October 16, 1997: And so I have finished the rewrite of the Viola Concerto, precisely one month from the day I recommenced it. It is a long piece, half an hour, or perhaps a bit more. There are a few moments of relaxation in it, but with Rivka Golani as the soloist, I wanted to produce a vigorous, sensual sound, for such is the personality of the woman. It’s as if she is coming at you all at once. I have never known a musician so obsessed with her instrument. She talks about her viola as if it was her lover, and her appetite for new works is insatiable.‘

The whole work is based on a descending and ascending scale announced quite simply in the opening thirty seconds. I adhered to it vigorously, trying to find new ways of giving the sequence rhythmic vitality. It is the only unifying device in what has turned out to be a rather lengthy work. R. Murray Schafer
Année de composition: 1997
Auftragswerk : commissioned by the Esprit Orchestra
Durée de la performance: 27'0"
Maison d'édition: Arcana Editions
instrumentation: pic.1.1.ca.1.bcl.1.cbsn-2.2.2.0-timp.perc(xyl, vib, crash cym, sizzle cym, Thai gong, Wuhan gong, Bender gongs, tam-t, s.d, bng, tom-t, tubular chimes, wdbl)-hp-str