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Gunther Schuller

Publisher: AMP

Concerto Quaternio for Four Solo Instruments and Four Orchestral Groups (1984)
Associated Music Publishers Inc
Soloists and Orchestra
Year Composed
20 Minutes
Solo Instrument(s)
Violin, Flute, Oboe, Trumpet
Programme Note
Gunther Schuller Concerto Quaternio for Four Solo Instruments and Four Orchestral Groups (1984)
Composer Note:

Concerto Quaternio is in three movements, set in an overall fast-slow-fast format. It features four soloists (violin, flute, oboe and trumpet), each of whom leads one of the chamber ensembles into which the orchestra is divided (the percussion section constitutes a fifth ensemble). Each group, more or less registrally distributed, contains not only representatives of the three standard orchestral choirs—strings, woodwinds, and brass—but also a “keyboard” instrument—piano, celesta, harpsichord, and harp (the latter in the oboe-led ensemble). These voices are used instrumentally.

The keyboard instruments and harp often accompany and support their respective solo partners, an association most noticeable in the cadenzas with which the slow movement ends.

—Gunther Schuller

A kind of clockwork ticking, used as a ground in the opening movement, glued the competing parts together. Textures, despite the intricacy of the interweaving instrumental parts, were lucid and often remarkable for their delicacy. Especially in the delectably scored second movement, an unexpectedly traditional Adagio luxuriated in wide patches of tonality and allowed Charles Rex’s violin to emit velvety ribbons of sound. …[It] may just be the best thing Mr. Schuller has produced in a long time.
Donal Henahan, The New York Times,01/01/0001
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