One of my favorite things as a composer is to discover and explore new instruments. When Avi Avital approached me to write a concerto for him, my acquaintance with the mandolin was fairly limited. I had used it in chamber pieces only twice before, and did not know most of the repertoire for the instrument. As I got to know the instrument better, I discovered its diverse sonic and expressive possibilities.
The concerto’s main conflicts are between sound and silence and between motion and stasis. One of the things that inspired me to deal with these opposites is the Mandolin’s most basic technique – the tremolo, which is the rapid repetition of notes. The tremolo embodies both motion and stasis. The rapid movement provides momentum, while the pitches stay the same.
The concerto can be divided into three main sections that are played attacca:
1. A slow meditative movement with occasional dynamic outbursts. The tremolo and silences accumulate energy which is released in fast kinetic outbursts. The main motives of the piece are introduced, all of which are based on the minor and major second.
2. A fast dance like movement that accumulates energy leading to a culmination at its end. The tremolo is slowed down becoming a relentless repetition in the bass - like a heartbeat. The fast movement is constructed much like a Baroque Concerto and a Concerto Grosso. The solo and tutti alternate frequently and in many instances instruments from the orchestra join the Mandolin as additional soloists.
3. Recapitulation of the opening movement. After the energy is depleted, all that is left for the ending is to delve deeper into the meditation of the opening movement and concentrate on a pure melody and an underlying heartbeat.
I would like to thank Avi Avital for his dedication and commitment throughout the process of creating this piece; for many hours of experimenting with unusual techniques; for introducing me to the Mandolin’s vast repertoire, including Baroque Mandolin, Russian folk music, Bluegrass, Indian music, Brazilian Jazz and Avant-Garde; and for performing the piece with depth and virtuosity.
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