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Programme Notes

Another Prayer, for violin solo, was composed in 2012 and is dedicated to Carolin Widmann, for whom it was written. It is partly based upon material from an earlier piece Prayer for viola (2009). This piece does much more than simply to transcribe that earlier piece, however: every pitch and gesture has been rethought in terms of violin acoustics and violin resonances, and there are therefore more bars and many other differences and new features.

Another Prayer involves a fairly constant use of modes with quarter-tones: these are partly an homage to the untempered pitches in the original version of Bartok’s unaccompanied Violin Sonata (1944) which both Carolin Widmann and I very much prefer to the simpler alternative. Particularly noticeable in Another Prayer is the pitch B (below middle C), which is one quarter-tone flatter than normal throughout the entire work. The same is usually true of the B one octave higher as well. The particular resonances that this new tuning sets up on the violin are further built upon by the use of other non-tempered intervals, as well as by a constant use of bowing changes between the nasal sul ponticello to the pale sul tasto, and many fluctuations in bowing pressure. The result, with its enlarged range of harmonic and acoustic colours and generally greater roughness of tone, is definitely closer to the violin traditions from folk cultures of Eastern Europe than to those of the Western concert tradition. As regards the title, I do not regard prayer as a quiet, sentimental activity, but as something urgent, potentially forceful and often lively. This tension in the music eventually gives rise to the sudden appearance of a trance-like passage of extremely high harmonics which whistle serenely like distant flutes or trumpets. Having thus meditatively withdrawn into the highest available regions of the instrument, the music abruptly lands the violin squarely back into its core register for its vigorous conclusion.

Julian Anderson 

Another Prayer

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