vln.vla - strings
1. Allegro grazioso 2. Lento 3. Presto scorrevole Mozart’s Sinfonia Concertante for violin and viola is one of my favourite works of his. I have always loved the special relationship between the two soloists: rather than rivalry, there is a sense of coming together in friendship. I have tried to express the same harmonious qualities in my own Double Concerto. At the centre of the first movement there is an extended passage where the two soloists play alternately over a series of bass pedals. This passage is modelled on the competition between oboe and violin in my concertino The Flaying of Marsyas; but whereas in that piece a strenuous contest results in the violin’s victory, in the Double Concerto the players display their skills in turn, with a sense of “this is I what can do – and this is what I can do”. The first movement begins with successive unaccompanied melodies for the orchestral 1st violins and violas which are then played in counterpoint by the two soloists. This is a kind of sonata movement, with the central dialogue taking the place of a proper development. The contemplative slow movement also has a central episode, in which the soloists imitate nightingales, which also make a brief return in the coda. For more than twenty years I have been going each May to places in Kent and Sussex to hear nightingales: for me no spring would be complete without hearing their wondrous songs. The last movement is based on the finale of my Ninth String Quartet, which in turn took as its model the spectral finale of Chopin’s B flat minor Sonata. Chopin’s movement remains dark and mysterious to the end; halfway through my finale, darkness turns to light when the music gradually takes on something of the character of an Irish jig, and the Concerto ends in a mood of quiet exuberance.