Film and Tv
Concerto for Violin (1961)
G Schirmer Inc
Soloist(s) and Orchestra
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Concerto for Violin (1961)
When I was asked to write some words about the Concerto and give some inner view of its creation, I felt that, rather than give a blow-by-blow report on what you are to hear, perhaps I might share with you a sort of overall impression of how the composer sees the work. First of all, I wanted to write a work that explores those qualities that I love best about the violin its lyric beauty, its incredible facility, its wide range of expression.
I wanted to write a work of vivid contrasts, a work in which through these contrasts one would experience tonality, atonality, angularity, gracefulness, restlessness, stillness, excitement, repose and mystery. And I hoped through these contrasts to create a world that, at least in this piece and in the composer’s imagination, reflects our own.
The Concerto is a work that moves easily into and out of tonality. In fact the opening D-flat G-flat cadence proclaims a tonal center with clear conviction. The cadence is the beginning of a thematic statement that is the central motivating force of the first movement, a first movement that juxtaposes an angularity with a repetitive ostinato figuration. Central to this dichotomy is the voice of the solo violin, which together with the orchestral underpinning evolves both gestures with increasing tension and excitement.
A controlled, enigmatic introduction opens the second movement. The solo violin’s entrance changes that feeling completely and unfolds a long lyric line that becomes the centerpiece of the arch that spans this movement. When the introductory material reappears the solo violin’s trills add to the enigmatic mystery of the material and later, when the lyrical line becomes the cadenza, it is in fact the continuation without orchestra of the lyricism that is actually the essential character of the movement.
The third movement is in the form of a rondo. Again the juxtaposition of contrasting elements is evident. A triplet rollicking theme, a running figuration, an expressionistic soaring line that is superimposed on the initial material, a middle section that explores with drama and irony expressed through various types of pizzicato strokes all create a rich and colorful texture, building to a buoyant, exhilarating conclusion.
The historic conception of the romantic ideal of the soloist, with the orchestra sometimes in accompanying figurations and sometimes simply counterpoised, has to be redefined for out time, partially because we have very few heroes and the concerto is in a sense the greatest manifestation of the individual as a hero.
We had gone through a decade of antiheroes, and now the pendulum has begun to swing back. To relate this to musical experience: How does one think of a concerto in this context? This Concerto reflects this problem, and my own response to it.
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