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'Concerto Grosso'

Soloists: Violin 1, Violin 2, Cello.

String orchesta: Violin 1, 2, Viola, Cello, Contrabass.

2021. 16 min.

Purchase score coming soon.

'Concerto Grosso' is a dynamic work for string orchestra harking back to the polyphony and vitality of baroque concerti with some modern colours and twists. Concerto Grosso 1. Molto allegro 2. Andante quasi adagio 3. Molto allegro e energico This work was inspired by my love of the concerto grosso format, as developed by composers like Vivaldi and Corelli, especially the joy of two violins playing in canon, and my interest in Schnittke’s way of reimagining the form to incorporate modern twists and dissonances. I also wanted to further explore quarter tones in a string setting as I had started to do in recent works. Further to that, I wanted to set the work out with a very clear, compact structure, in order to venture away from the more extended through-composed ways of working I had gotten very used to. Another important stylistic influence was Serbian folk and popular music, and the piece was originally intended to explicitly reference such music. In the end, however, it was more the spirit of certain songs that made their way in, rather than any of the melodies themselves. Influences from Argentinian tango are also present, particularly with the use of whips and the overall rhythmic vitality, although syncopation is not heavily used. Thematically, the work is unified by the quarter-tonal motif that appears at the very beginning, and by the idea of canon, by way of which the two solo violins frequently interact with one another, in all three movements. The process of sketching the first movement began with a very broad outline of the structure and different characters of each subsection. The main structural idea is the alternation of the concertino with the ripieno, as is typical of a concerto grosso, within a broader cyclic structure featuring a clear recapitulation. The first movement is additionally built on two independent themes: the alternating motif heard at the beginning (idea I), and the extended tutti theme entering slightly later (idea II). The quarter-tonal motif and idea I are associated with the concertino throughout, while idea II is associated with the ripieno or tutti sections, further distinguishing the roles of these two components of the orchestra. The three themes present in this movement are fragmented, inverted, and set against one another in dialogue and counterpoint in a playful way. The structure of the second movement follows more of an intuitive narrative arc, also featuring a recapitulation. The thematic material is all presented in the opening melody, and the unifying quarter-tonal motif is presented as a complimentary idea. The cello solo theme that occurs shortly thereafter is an extended inversion of the violin 1 theme from the opening of the movement. The high, vibrant chord progression that follows in the ripieno is a recontextualization of the chords which open my flute and piano work, a Shower of Sunbeams. These are built on quartal harmony, involving many stacked fourths or fifths, along with higher overtones adding additional colour. The quartal nature of these chords inspired the D-A-E figure in the opening of the movement. This movement ends with a somewhat dark coda, reminding us of the quarter-tonal motif of the work, and ending with a series of progressively more quarter-tonal chord progressions, examining new possibilities in this narrower chromaticism. The final movement takes the opening of idea II from the first movement and inverts it to generate its main motif. The primary concept of this movement is the canonic interplay between the two solo violins. A secondary motif is constructed as a canon based on the unifying quarter-tonal motif. The movement is structured in ABA’CAB’A’A rondo form. Apart from the last movement, in which I knew I wanted to express joy, I only had general energetic ideas about the characters of the first two movements. As I was writing them, they coalesced into clearer images: the first movement representing the drama of torrential life events, and the second movement, the simultaneous loneliness and comfort of solitude.

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