Three Inventions for Chamber Orchestra


by George Benjamin

chamber orchestra of 24 players
Chamber Orchestra
2(I=picc.II=picc+afl).1(=ca).2(I=Bb+A.II=Bb+bcl).bcl(=cbcl).1(=cbsn) - 2.1(=flhn+ptpt).1(=euph).0 - perc(2): 2 vib/glsp/5 cyms/crot/3 bongos/wash board/2 mini SD/2 BD/4 gongs/2 tam-t - pno(=cel) - harp - 3 vln(III=vla).2 vla.2 vlc.2 db

Commissioned by Betty Freeman for the 75th Salzburg Festival

First Performance
27.7.1995, Salzburg Festival, Mozarteum, Austria: Ensemble Modern/George Benjamin

Score 0-571-51702-1 on sale, parts for hire

Programme Notes

Commissioned by Betty Freeman for the 1995 Salzburg Festival, this work is scored for an ensemble of 24 players: 7 wind, 4 brass, harp, piano, 2 percussionists and 9 strings. The discrepancy in length and character of the three movements is intentional - two relatively short and light movements preceding a much longer and darker conclusion. In the first Invention, mainly serene and luminous in atmosphere, a brief introduction leads to a sustained flugel-horn solo whose melodic curves create constantly transforming harmonic implications. The second Invention is fast, loud and rhythmic. A virtuoso cor anglais solo announces what appears to be a conventional triple metre; however, within a very brief time all manner of irregular figuration and unexpected tempo juxtapositions contort this metre beyond recognition. Half-way through the texture launches into an energetic tutti; only at the very end is metrical regularity re-instated by an acrobatic clarinet solo. The final Invention mirrors the first in technical conception, but the tone is radically different. Antiphonal tuned gongs and bass drums surround a network of materials which weave through the whole ensemble: slow bass octaves, floating consonant harmonies, rushing filigree scales. . As these materials rotate across the structure in ever changing combinations they encounter a variety of foreground melodic solos: initially a serpentine contra-bassoon, later a menacing euphonium and more florid violins and violas. As the movement progresses, harmony and rhythm mutate into constantly new territory, but the heavy, bass-dominated pulse which underpins the texture remains remorselessly regular until the very end.

© George Benjamin

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