Concerto for Viola


viola and orchestra
Chamber/Small Orchestra
2(I=picc.II=afl).2.2(II=bcl).2(II=cbsn) - 2200 -perc(2): 12 thai gong/2 tam-t/BD/spring coil - harp - strings
Commissioned by the Cheltenham International Festival for Paul Silverthorne, with funds from South West Arts
First Performance
2.7.95, Cheltenham International Festival, Cheltenham Town Hall: BBC Philharmonic Orchestra/Paul Silverthorne/Yan Pascal Tortelier

Score 0-571-51750-1 on sale, full score and parts for hire

Programme Notes

My concerto is really a cycle of seven bleak and brooding songs-without-words. The viola sings, and the orchestra echoes its song in predominantly soft and gentle colours: flute, harp and tolling gongs. Each 'song' ends with a horn 'lebewohl' farewell and each contains an allusion, sometimes hidden, to an opera, a song or a madrigal. The trio from Cosi fan tutte, 'Soave sia il vento', invokes gentle winds to blow the lovers' ship back to shore; Penelope despairs, 'You, you alone make no returning' in 'Torna il tranquillo al mare' from Monteverdi's 'Il ritorno d'Ulisse in patria'; there is the ghost of Schumann's allusion to Beethoven's 'An die ferne Geliebte', and the reminiscences of Tristan ('No ship there on the sea?') and Idomeneo ('Placido e il mar, andiamo...'). The last song comes from Monteverdi's madrigal 'O sia tranquillo il mare': 'Whether the sea is calm or rough I will wait for you to return'. The singer's laments are carried away on the winds, and the music resolves into a slow, dark rocking. Viola Concerto was commissioned by Paul Silverthorne and the Cheltenham International Festival, with funds from South West Arts.

© John Woolrich

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News & Reviews

'Concerto for Viola' reviews

‘… perfectly apt for the viola: seven linked movements like songs-without-words, all of them melancholy, each with a half-concealed inspiration … soft, pungent music, dense with thoughtful feeling but transparently scored … quiteoriginal.’ Financial Times (David Murray), 5 July 1995 Read more

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