Viola Concerto No 1 (1995 /1998)
Commissioned by Philip Dukes.
First performance: Philip Dukes (va); London Mozart Players / Matthias Bamert, Royal Albert Hall, London, 01 Jan 1995
Category: chamber concerto orchestral
Instrumentation: Va / 2(1)22(1)2 2200 Tp Perc Str
- Recording (cassette track): Philip Dukes / London Mozart Players / Matthias Bamert [enquire]
- Recording (CD track), 1998, CD-971: Ola Rudner, Swedish Chamber Orchestra, Philip Dukes [enquire]
- Recording (CD track), 2006, COV30507: Tatjana Masurenko, Garry Walker, NDR Radiophilharmonie [enquire]
- Score, unpublished, ref library [buy]
- Score, unpublished, archive collection [enquire]
- Part(s), unpublished, archive collection [enquire]
- Part(s), unpublished, hire library [enquire]
This concerto is a personal response to one of the most moving passages in the New Testament - Peter's three-fold denial of Christ.
The work is in a single movement, and follows the shape of the story as told in the Gospel, which cuts from scene to scene and back, rather like a film.
Opening with a bitter fanfare, and the sombre procession from the Garden of Gethsemane - Jesus bound and led by his captors - the voice of Peter (the viola) is heard following the horn in a delayed and decorated canon. From then on the music depicts two contrasted scenes - that of the questioning of Jesus in the courtroom (incessant, needle-like woodwind), and that of Peter outside by the fire. The courtroom scenes become increasingly intense, culminating in staccato fortissimo chords - the striking of Jesus. The scenes outside the courtroom are characterised by three cadenzas - the three denials - in each of which a different instrument 'questions' the viola - first the clarinet, then the cello, and lastly the horn, interrupted by a burst of brass and timpani - the crowing of the cock.
The final section moves from an outpouring of grief to a gradual resolution into reflective optimism - the opening descending horn motif is inverted so that it leads upwards into silence.
The concerto is dedicated to its commissioner, Philip Dukes, who gave the first performance at the BBC Promenade concerts in 1995, with the London Mozart Players under Matthias Bamert.