Broken Symmetry

(1992)

by Colin Matthews

Description
orchestra
Duration
20
Genres
Full Orchestra
Instrumentation
2(=picc).afl.2.ca.Ebcl.2.bcl.cbcl.2.cbsn - 6431 - timp- perc(4): 3 BD(one with foot ped)/2 TD/12 tom-t/3 tam-t/3 susp.cym/2 siz.cym/2 hi-hat/tamb/log drum/guiro/ratchet/1 or 2 fishing rod reel/1 or 2 vibraslap/mcas/sleigh bells/4 tpl.bl/lujon/6 c.bell/2 anvil/2 brake drum/bell tree/t.bells/2 vib/2 glsp/crot- pno - harp - strings (pref 14.12.10.10.8)
Commission
Commissioned by the BBC
First Performance
5.3.92, Barbican Hall, London: BBC Symphony Orchestra/Oliver Knussen
Availability

Study score (fp) 0-571-55714-7 on sale, full score and parts for hire

Programme Notes
Colin Matthews Broken Symmetry Commissioned by the BBC, Broken Symmetry was composed between January 1991 and January 1992, and first performed in a BBC concert at the Barbican on 5 March. The score is headed ‘for Oliver Knussen, and for the BBC Symphony Orchestra in memory of David Johnson’ – a gifted and popular member of the orchestra’s percussion section who died suddenly during its tour of Japan in May 1990. The instrumentation of the piece includes a large and colourful percussion section, together with a substantial complement of woodwind (including the rare contrabass clarinet) and brass; harp and piano; and strings in large numbers, with a good deal of divided writing. These large forces – with the percussion playing an important role – are used to create and maintain an extraordinary sense of sustained energy and momentum. This is something which Broken Symmetry has in common with a number of Colin Matthews’s other recent works: among them Toccata Meccanica (a significant title), Suns Dance, Monody, Hidden Variables, and parts of The Great Journey. It is probably fair to say that he was encouraged to explore this vein by the example of the continuous motion of the American ‘minimalist’ composers; but at the same time his methods are very different from theirs, involving virtually no literal repetition. And, in comparison to their use of deliberately simple material, his musical language is complex and definitely (these days one might almost say defiantly) non-tonal. There are, all the same, systems at work here: an underlying twelve-note row is the basis of the cantus firmus-like lines of long notes which run through much of the piece, not only in the bass but also in the middle and upper parts; a series of three- and four-note cells derived from the row generates the patterns of faster-moving notes. But at any given point in the score, the composer says, his choice of specific notes – which cell to employ, which pitches to sustain in the harmonies, which line to treat in canon, and so on- is governed as much by instinct as by process. Matthews’s approach to metre and rhythm, for all the impression it gives of machine-finished precision, is similarly unsystematic.

Licensing Information

News & Reviews

'Broken Symmetry' reviews

‘… a virtuoso musical machine of threatening power … its sequence of trios and reprises … careers through the musical landscape in a sequence of vivid, violent images.’ Financial Times (Andrew Clements), 10 March 1992 Read more

Site Search

Newsletter sign-up

Submit your email address here to receive the latest news and special offers from Faber Music

Score Availability

It is possible in certain circumstances to purchase some scores direct from the Hire Library, even if advertised as available only for hire.

Please Contact the Hire Library:
Tel: +44 (0)1279 828907 / 8
Email: hire@fabermusic.com

Take a look

Julian Anderson

 'Anderson really is a composer to cherish’  The Times  ‘...one of the most...

read more