by David Matthews

cello and orchestra
Solo Instruments with Orchestra
2222 - 2000 strings (min
Commissioned by Mstislav Rostropovich for the 90th Birthday of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother
First Performance
2.8.90, Buckingham Palace: English Chamber Orchestra/Mstislav Rostropovich/Raymond Leppard

Study score (fp) 0-571-55728-7 on sale, full score and parts for hire

Programme Notes
When Madeleine Mitchell commissioned this piece, she asked if I could write a Romanza, with its implications of lyricism and emotional warmth, and I readily agreed. This is my second piece with that title; the first was for cello and small orchestra, composed in 1990 for the Queen Mother’s 90th birthday. Madeleine also suggested that I might write two versions, one with piano and one with strings. Again, this seemed a good idea: I composed the piece initially for string orchestra and then made a reduction for piano. The opening section is marked Andante appassionato. It contains two main ideas, the second more gentle and reflective. When I had brought this opening section to a natural close I was uncertain for some time what should come next. Then I read an essay by Bayan Northcott in which he points out how rare it is to find the 3/4 metre in contemporary music, whether serious or popular. He suggested that if composers want to do something fresh they should try reviving the waltz. I liked this idea and, as much of my opening section was already in triple time, it was easy to speed it up and for a waltz to emerge. This waltz forms a substantial middle section, after which the opening material returns, in a different form, before accelerating again to a distant reminiscence of the waltz (I imagined it played by a musical box). At the end, the waltz theme dissolves, leaving a final falling major second on the unaccompanied violin, the interval with which the piece begins. DM

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News & Reviews

'Romanza' review

'As the Prince says in his foreword, he wanted the new pieces here to have “recognisable melodies and themes”; and this piece comes from the lyrical rather that the searching side of Matthews. But it grows into more than the wistful little number that its opening suggests – a full-scale, neatly wrought sonata movement with plenty of lovely cello writing' The Independent (Robert Maycock), 29 September 1990 Read more

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