Violin Concerto no. 1
2: Adagio Requiem pour une maison
The idea of a violin concerto had hovered around in the deeper recesses of my imagination for some time when this commission presented itself. I have always felt that deciding upon the moment at which I start to crystallize what is reverberating in my imagination is the most crucial decision of all and, as usual, I waited until that moment arrived.
What has emerged is a concerto which has a not unconventional shape, in fact the three movement sequence matches, in broad terms, that of nearly all of the most celebrated concerto repertoire: a first movement that is essentially dramatic, a middle movement of introspection and a finale that embraces physicality and earthiness.
All my previous orchestral works have had programmes to them and usually a strong narrative thread. While, with the violin concerto I wanted to step away from any sort of clear extra-musical guide, I wanted to exploit the drama of the relationship between the solo violin and orchestra. The violin’s natural ability to convey, almost viscerally, human vulnerability was something that attracted me greatly. Added to this was the obvious drama of the one voice and its emergence from, and influence over, the greater body.
The first movement begins with orchestra alone and after a powerful build up recedes and the solo violin is first heard. At once we are hearing a different expression, and this paradox is more or less maintained throughout the movement. The solo line characterised as a lone voice amidst the multitudes, the orchestral material implacable and mostly uninfluenced by the solo violin. There is a centrally positioned cadenza and just before it, the solo’s power seemingly at its strongest, first violin section and soloist join in the long line that precedes it. The long build up following the cadenza - one that is an extended parallel of the opening tutti - ultimately overwhelms the solo violin.
The second movement, although showing a different relationship, seems to further acknowledge this polarity. This time beginning the movement on its own, the solo line is threaded over and through the orchestral texture with great freedom and self- expression. The orchestra is passive, moving in a simple accompaniment to the soloist’s song.
The finale is more earthed and physical. Soloist and orchestra share material in acknowledgement of each other. There are some references to the preceding movements and again a cadenza (minimally accompanied). The work ends in dance and good humour.
c.Eleanor Alberga 20/9/01.