Turning Point


Full Orchestra
2(I & II = picc).afl.2.ca.2.bcl.cbcl.2.cbsn - 4341 - timp - perc(3) - 2 harp - pno (= cel) - strings: 30 vln div in 3 (12-10-8).12.10.8
Commissioned by the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra
First Performance
19.1.07, Concertgebouw, Amsterdam: Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra/Markus Stenz

Score 0-571-53944-0 on sale, parts for hire

Programme Notes
Turning Point The title for this single-movement work did not emerge until the piece was nearly finished, and arose in part from the circumstances of its composition. I began work on the piece in the spring of 2003, and had originally hoped it would be ready for the 2004/5 season. But having completed the first main section I couldn't find the way to continue, and put the piece aside for a year while working on other projects. This first section was almost wholly fast music, and when I came back to it, the continuation was even faster - a whirling scherzo-like episode. Again I found it difficult to make any further progress until I realised that what was needed was a complete change of direction, a 'turning point'. The third part of the piece, almost half of the whole, is very slow and intense, and in complete contrast to the earlier music (although based entirely on the same material). While the turning point itself is very clear, the division between the first two parts is less straightforward, as they share nearly identical music, an episode towards the end of the first section becoming the coda to the second. (The same music also reappears briefly not long before the end of the work.) Turning Point lasts around 18 minutes, and plays without any break : a commission from the Concertgebouw Orchestra, it was written very much with the very special quality of the orchestra in mind, as well as the wonderful acoustics of the Concertgebouw itself. My account of the piece is abstract, referring only to the shape, appropriate to a work which is not 'about' anything other than itself. But its musical language breaks some new ground for me, and I hope will leave an impression of complex momentum countered by expressive simplicity. Colin Matthews

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