Lament for cello and strings


by Peter Sculthorpe

solo cello and strings
Solo Instruments with Orchestra, String Orchestra
First Performance
22.9.1991, Opera House, Sydney: Raphael Wallfisch/Australian Chamber Orchestra

Study score (fp) 0-571-55741-4 on sale, full score and parts for hire

Programme Notes

Lament for solo cello and strings Most early immigrants and visitors to Australia were disturbed by what seemed to them to be a hostile landscape. One writer went as far as to suggest that Dante must have had gum trees in mind when he wrote his Inferno, and, he added, ‘the wretched things…give no shade.’ Even Darwin was troubled by the ‘desolate and untidy appearance of the woods’. During the nineteenth century, then, there developed a melancholic convention in Australian literature and painting. Music, however, remained untouched by this convention until after the Second World War. At that time, as Western European composers began to refashion their particular worlds, some Australian composers, unaffected by the conflict, began to look more closely at their own world. For some decades, a sense of loss tended to pervade our music. The Lament, originally written for string orchestra in 1976, is probably my farewell to this melancholia. Indeed, the downward-turning motive of the work’s central section can be found in its inverted and more optimistic form in many subsequent pieces. This 1991 version of the work extends the writing for solo cello that exists in the original. In one movement, the music is in three clearly-defined sections: the first, is desolate, with the melodic line shared between solo cello and first violins; the second is somewhat impassioned; and following the climax, the last, dominated by solo cello, is again desolate. Peter Sculthorpe

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