Little Chaconne - No 1 of Two Pieces for Strings


by David Matthews

string orchestra
String Orchestra
Commissioned by the Bournemouth Orchestras with financial assistance from the Arts Council of England
First Performance
2.5.97, St Georges, Brandon Hill, Bristol: Bournemouth Sinfonietta/Tamas Vasary

Score and parts for hire

Programme Notes

In 1986 I wrote my Chaconne for orchestra, which was a meditation on a particular tragic event (the Battle of Towton, the bloodiest of the Wars of the Roses, as evoked by Geoffrey Hill in his poem-sequence called Funeral Music). Little Chaconne is also, in part, a meditation, and also tragic in tone, though there are no specific associations. I had the earlier piece in mind, however, when I wrote Little Chaconne, and its coda is deliberately modelled on that of Chaconne. The four-note chaconne theme appears on pizzicato bass in the brief introduction; then, in a quasi-funeral march, as the bass to a theme in the violas that grows out of it. This theme, together with the chaconne bass, appears in various transformations throughout the piece, reaching its most clearly defined and in tensest form near the end. There are two fugato interludes, the first very fast, the second the same music in a slower tempo. The hushed coda ends with a few fleeting bars of the fugato music. Little Chaconne was commissioned by the Bournemouth Sinfonietta and composed between February and May 1996. It is dedicated to Tamas Vasary.

© David Matthews

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