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Ezra Laderman

Publisher: G. Schirmer

Concerto for Chamber Orchestra (A Play Within a Play) (1989)
G Schirmer Inc
Soloist(s) and Orchestra
Year Composed
20 Minutes
Programme Note
Ezra Laderman Concerto for Chamber Orchestra (A Play Within a Play) (1989)
Digital perusal score available from SchirmerOnDemand
Composer Note:

There are three kinds of music-making in the movement Andante listesso. The first, deals with a layering of single notes, the second is a series of solo lines, and the third is a long arching line. Initially, timbre and harmonic logic are developed through the layering of single notes. Then a series of solo lines are introduced. They are first expressed by the oboe, viola and clarinet, and ultimately involve all the instruments. This is followed by a long arching line in the violins heard twice during the course of the movement. It first appears above a static pulse, and later arcs over an ever-changing harmonic serenity, at times almost pastoral. It undergoes a gradual transformation over the span of the movement, reaches a height of intensity, and in its closing measure returns to the first theme in an altered state.

The second movement, Allegretto giocoso, is subtitled “Couplings.” It begins with a succession of six duos: Oboe/Bassoon, French horn/Cello, Clarinet/Trombone, Violin/Double Bass, Flute/Viola, Trumpet/Tympani. The duos are first heard at the fullest realization; as they return they are increasingly truncated until but a single gesture separates the pairs. This foreshortening creates a kind of gravitational pull toward the essence of each duo. A new line in unison emerges from the remaining single notes and forms a synthesis of the original material. A gentle ending, with the single notes now heard vertically, brings the movement to a questioning close.

The third movement, Allegro, begins robustly, though quietly, with brio and rhythmic urgency. The Cello is our initial protagonist. With each repeat of the line, new colors are added and it becomes more emphatic in its delineation. This sense of purpose, drive and musical extension of material is abruptly interrupted for a fleeting moment with the strings tremolo sul ponticello. It goes by so quickly that it does not at first impose itself on our consciousness. However, an intruder has been felt if but for an instant. The music, without skipping another beat, returns to its optimistic profile, but again the intruder returns, more persistent, more insistent. In short order it will dominate. In a frenzied yet hushed, shadowy and ghostly manner the Chamber Concerto concludes.

— Ezra Laderman

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