In the slow movement of Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 4, the calm, lyrical soloist is pitted against stern, austere music played the orchestra. The two characters initially appear oblivious to one another, and simply alternate; as the movement goes on, however, they begin to interact, and eventually the piano ‘tames’ the orchestra, which finally provides a gentle accompaniment to the piano’s steadfastly lyrical material.
It was this concept that inspired my Viola Concerto. In the first half of the piece, the lyrical character of the viola is in competition with assertive material in the ensemble. The fight is an unequal one, to the extent that the viola is sometimes completely obliterated by the ensemble. Following a passage for unaccompanied viola that marks the centre point of the piece, the ensemble thereafter functions as an accompaniment in a much more straightforward sense, allowing the viola to grow into a more overtly soloistic role.
Instrumentation: Viola, Ensemble (220.127.116.11(=cbsn) – 18.104.22.168 – perc(1): vib/mar – hp – pno – 22.214.171.124.1)
Commission: Commissioned by the London Sinfonietta as part of their Writing the Future Scheme, supported by the Jerwood Charitable Foundation, Boltini Trust, PRS for Music Foundation and London Sinfonietta Pioneers
15th October 2019
Paul Silverthorne, London Sinfonietta, Geoffrey Paterson
Queen Elizabeth Hall