Monody - Sonata No 6 Canto-Ostinato-Threnody


by Colin Matthews

Full Orchestra
3(III=picc).2.2.bcl.(cbcl).2.cbsn - 4.2(I=ptpt adlib).3.1 - timp - perc(3): vib/3 BD/3 susp.cym/hi-hat/ tom-t/(siz.cym)/tam-t/gong/6 rototom/4 t.bells/glsp/claves/mcas - pno - 2 harp(2 ad lib) - strings (min
Commissioned by the Schools Music Association (North Region) for the Northern Junior Philharmonic Orchestra
First Performance
25.7.87, Newcastle City Hall: Northern Junior Philharmonic Orchestra/Elgar Howarth

Facsimile score 0-571-51061-2 on sale, parts for hire

Programme Notes
Colin Matthews MONODY: Canto – Ostinato – Threnody Canto implies melody, and the opening consists of a very long melodic line played fast and rhythmically. The orchestration here is ‘pointillistic’ – it’s as if the players all have the pieces of a jigsaw which only the conductor knows how to put together. Very gradually the melody moves away from its single line and becomes more elaborate, accelerating slightly into the Ostinato. Over a constantly moving bass line, jazz-like offbeat chords are tossed about, at first gently, but soon more forcefully as the bass line rises through the orchestra to dominate the orchestral texture. As it does so, the music slows down, and ‘freezes’, to begin the Threnody, or ‘lament’. Here the music is, as might be expected, rather sombre; to some extent its character is determined by the use, almost throughout, of three bass drums (this is the only idea that was carried over from my rejected sketches). Although formally the Threnody functions as a recapitulation of the Canto, the music takes on a completely different aspect. First there is a high woodwind line above growling trombones, then a slowly rising melody (mainly for strings) over bell sounds and a percussion ostinato. After an elaborate chordal passage for the whole orchestra, the music attempts to move away from its static character, gathering momentum as whirling textures reach upward only to be brought very much back to earth by the final gesture. Monody was commissioned by Peter Swan of the Schools Music Association for the Northern Junion Philharmonic Orchestra, who gave it a remarkable first performance under Elgar Howarth in Newcastle in July 1987, with subsequent performances in Carlisle and Snape Maltings. Colin Matthews

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News & Reviews

'Monody' reviews

‘A powerful atmospheric evocation in which contrast and climax are reached texturally rather than rhythmically or thematically and the highlights and cloudings seem like changes of weather …’ The Independent (Raymond Monelle), 27 July 1987 Read more

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