fl(=picc) - hn - perc(1): mar/crot/susp.cym/ch.cym/siz.cym/2 bongo/2 conga/tam-t/BD - harp - single strings


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Programme Notes

My Second Violin Concerto was composed between November 1997 and May 1998. The first idea was written down on a plane from London to Hong Kong and the first paragraph completed at my friend Peter Sculthorpe's house in Sydney two weeks later. In November and December 1997 my wife and I toured extensively in Australia and California, and the Concerto is much associated with the idea of a journey. So, for instance, the soloist sets off from his lowest G and returns to it as his final note, as the journey is completed. The Concerto lasts about eighteen minutes and plays continously. It is a chamber concerto; the accompaniment is for wind quintet, string quintet, percussion (predominantly marimba) and harp. There are five sections. The first, Con moto moderato, is preludial, the soloist stating the main melody and the flute taking it up. This leads to a cadenza, which is followed by the main fast music of the concerto, a scherzo in two parts, the second faster than the first. This second part is a reworking of a piece I had written in 1996 for my brother Colin's fiftieth birthday. It is constructed on the idea of a number of paragraphs of identical length and metre, the second of which repeats the material of the first but adds new material, the third repeating the new material and adding more material to that, and so on, until the first paragraph eventually returns to end the process (the original piece was called 'Happy Returns'). The third section is a slow movement in five paragraphs. The first four build towards a lyrical climax; the fifth is the piece's still centre, the only place in the score where motion is suspended. The solo violin and wind parts here are derived from songs of Australian birds (many of which are notable for their ability to sing within the diatonic scale). Then comes a second cadenza, a double cadenza for the soloist and the first violin of the quintet, which also recapitulates the first part of the scherzo. The second part is also repeated, but at half its length, and pianissimo instead of forte. It has a rumbustious new coda, which leads to the final section, a developing recapitulation of the first section. The lyricism that has dominated the Concerto comes particularly to the fore here, and the soloist ends the piece with a final unaccompanied flourish. Concerto for Violin No. 2 was commissioned by the St. Nazaire Festival and Lichfield Festivals.

© David Matthews

Violin Concerto No.2

Alice Tully Hall, Lincoln Center (New York City, NY, USA)

Joel Sachs/Juilliard Orch

Violin Concerto No.2

No Venue (Dartington, Devon, United Kingdom)

David Angus/Festival Orchestra/Nicola Loud

Violin Concerto No.2

No Venue (Lichfield, Staffordshire, United Kingdom)

Diego Masson/Nash Ensemble/Philippe Graffin

Violin Concerto No.2

No Venue (Saint-Nazaire, Pays de la Loire, France)

Nash Ensemble/Philippe Graffin