Eight Duos


two violins
Commissioned by Philippa Mo
First Performance
20.10.02, Deutsches Museum, Munich, Germany: Philippa Parry/Peter Sheppard Skaerved

Score 0-571-52640-3 on sale 

Programme Notes

1. English Dance

2. Slavonic Dance

3. Still Afternoon

4. Bells at Evening

5. Pastoral

6. Contra-Pastoral

7. Fugue and Dance

8. Arietta

Eight Duos for Two Violins was commissioned in 1999 by Philippa Mo, and the first five duos were composed that autumn during a three-week residency at the MacDowell Colony in New Hampshire, USA. I was writing a string orchestral piece called Fall Dances at the same time, and the first, as well as the seventh duo share their thematic material with that piece. The titles of the first two duos, and the general character of their music, refer to the nationalities of Philippa and her then duo-partner Mislava Mikelic-Bensaid, who is from Slovenia. 'Still Afternoon' was inspired by the natural sounds I could hear on warm September afternoons from my composer's hut at MacDowell, set in a woodland clearing. 'Bells at Evening' is played entirely pizzicato except for the last note, which is a bell-like harmonic. 'Pastoral' is my attempt at writing an English folk-tune, while 'Contra-Pastoral, a study in dissonance marked 'Con violenza', might be its urban opposite. The four-part fugue that begins the seventh duo is in the same rhythm as the ensuing dance section. Finally, 'Arietta' gives a long ascending melody alternately to both players.

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