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Leon Kirchner

Publisher: AMP

Music for Cello and Orchestra (1992)
Associated Music Publishers Inc
Soloist(s) and Orchestra
Sub Category
Large Orchestra
Year Composed
18 Minutes
Solo Instrument(s)
Programme Note
Leon Kirchner Music for Cello and Orchestra (1992)
Composer Note:

I find it difficult to write about my own music or to equate life’s experience with “creation”, but truly one cannot separate flow of reality from the creative world of illusion.

Working late one evening, I must have unconsciously reviewed the course that music has taken in the last several decades— from post-12 tone “serialism” to uncertainty principles, from comedy to minimalism, and on to the New Romanticism, from formidable titles to invisible content— all the while hearing the gradual disintegration of feeling and gestalt so important to Schoenberg, Bartok, Stravinsky and all the others. (Gestalt, or “Form Building” as Schoenberg called it, being the most vital characteristic aspect of musical art in the “Viennese Classic” and before, long before— that which gave music the possibility of endless interpretation and revelation in performance.)

And so I mused during the time I worked on my Music for Cello and Orchestra. It happened that toward the ending of this work a Bach-like chorale “appeared,” a haunting and retrospective moment (in my mind) that moved in a dream-like way through Wagnerian and Mahlerian space, a kind of recapitulation, not only of thematic and structural seeds the work engendered, but of that crucial time in our history in which some subterranean source had been blocked, leading us more and more rapidly shifting “styles” and the “overwhelming influence of chic” to the exclusion of feeling and gestalt. And so my music seemed to recapitulate the past momentarily in a personal effort to empower and alternative future— my fantasy, of course.

However, if words could explain or justify music then I shouldn’t have to write it. Art is difficult. Someone once asked Oscar Wilde what he had written that morning, and Wilde replied, “A comma.” The person went on to ask what he had written that afternoon, and Wilde responded, “I erased the comma.”

— Leon Kirchner

  • Ensemble
    Philadelphia Orchestra
    Yo-Yo Ma (Cello)
    David Zinman
    Sony Classical:
Kirchner's piece is a magical masterpiece in the twilight-of-romanticism mode. Kirchner knows [Ma's] playing and his spirit well; the solo part is a continuous outpouring of soulful melody, masked and mirrored by the rich and complex orchestral writing, and propelled by Kirchner's own characteristically dark interior sense of drama. What makes this piece particularly remarkable is that the density of idea is balanced by a luminous clarity of texture and ravishing sonorities -- the piece ends with the solo cello, English horn, strings and a glistening frost of bells.
Richard Dyer, Boston Globe,01/01/0001
In form and feeling, it is rhapsodic....exceptionally ardent, more so than anything I've heard from this composer before. A wonderful aspect of the piece is its understanding of the cello's gifts.
Leslie Valdes, The Philadelphia Inquirer,01/01/0001
The lyrical spine of Leon Kirchner's music is surrounded harmonically and contrapuntally by sinew. Kirchner has long known where he belongs and what he's about. And he's about making music that soars and sings no less freely for the complexly structured machinery that keeps it soaring and singing. Music for Cello and Orchestra's single movement comprises several thoroughly developed, connected sections of varying tempi. Kirchner goes further and constantly fluctuates speed within the sections; one bar holds back (more or just a little), and the very next tells them suddenly to get the lead out. More important, however, are the phrases that retard or accelerate, both for the solo cello (with its deep pools of melody and foaming torrents of passage-work) and various orchestral soloists or entire groups [giving] a nice feel for massed lyricism, and uncommon elegance.
Leighton Kerner, Village Voice,01/01/0001
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