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Thea Musgrave

Publisher: Novello & Co

Green (chamber version) (2008)
Commissioned by the Scottish Ensemble with support from the Friends of the Scottish Ensemble and first performed on 15 December 2008 at Queen's Cross Church, Aberdeen.
Novello & Co Ltd
Sub Category
String Orchestra
Year Composed
14 Minutes
Purchase CD
Programme Note
Thea Musgrave Green (chamber version) (2008)
This short work is about conflict - expressed here by the clash of opposing musical forces.

One "force" an "arioso" is based around the harmonic field of E and is melodic, tonal, straightforward, and, at times, emotional. It is mainly led by the first violin. The other "force" led by the double bass, is strongly discordant [at first a single note F later gradually growing to a giant cluster]. It is essentially chordal [non-melodic], static, suffocating, inexorable and impersonal. Its only contrast is getting louder or getting softer, getting denser, or less dense.

The interruption of the opening "arioso" by a single note F on the double bass is at first not very threatening and the reaction to it is one of surprise. Later as the threat increases so the reaction becomes stronger; at first one of irritation, then anger. A passionate outburst on the violins follows which falls on deaf ears. Then a solo violin, solo viola and solo cello all appeal in turn: still no response. Finally only fragments of the original "arioso" are heard before dying away.

Whereas near the beginning of the work the F on the double bass was an intrusive discord to the E of the "arioso", now at the end a high lingering E on the solo violin [all that is left of the original "arioso"] is a discord to the giant cluster based on F.

Many parallels to this conflict can of course be drawn from real life. The title "Green" for me represents either the freshness of youth, or for the plant life in our world on which we all depend.

Programme note by Thea Musgrave

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Green is typical of [Musgrave's] teasing musical style – a tendency to pepper a predominantly traditional harmonic language with spiced moments of shock and awe. The luxuriant opening, with its calm and sleepy vista, lulls the listener into a false sense of security. This piece has hidden menace, forcibly announced at the sudden moment the double bass adopts a mischievous persona, to which the whole ensemble reacts with a mix of mild panic and corporate aggression. Ultimately, though, they reassert their unity. Thursday's performance captured the work's impressive combination of grace, dynamism and intrigue....
Kenneth Walton, The Scotsman,20/12/2008
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