Suite for Violin and Viola
About this work:
II. Interludium primum
III. Interludium secundum
V. Interludium tertium
VI. Interludium quartum (Canon)
Suite for Violin and Viola was written in the spring of 1999 as part of the Seattle Symphony Young Composers Workshop, led by Samuel Jones. It was premiered on May 9, 1999 by Corrine Odegard, violin, and William Boyd, viola, of the Seattle Symphony.
The piece consists of seven short movements: a prelude, two interludes, a fugue, two interludes, and a finale. While it draws stylistic inspiration from Bartók's 44 Duets for Two Violins, its form is largely based upon Hindemith's Ludus Tonalis. As in Ludus Tonalis, the movement titles are in Latin. Similar to much of Hindemith's music, each movement in Suite for Violin and Viola--no matter how chromatic--ends on a major chord, explicit or implied.
In the prelude, the two instruments cross over each other with sweeping glissandi, combining to form a single melodic line. Later, a simple folk tune is played by the violin, while the viola mirrors the violin tune in contrary motion. Each of the two interludes that follow begins as a canon, but breaks into free imitative counterpoint. The first interlude is somewhat like a tribute to Hindemith, while the second is more in the style of Bartók. Following the interludes is a slow, two-part fugue with a chromatically descending subject. Central to the piece, the fugue is the longest movement, lasting about a minute and a half. The third interlude is based entirely on a five-note motive presented in octaves at the beginning. An exact canon, the fourth interlude continually alternates between pizzicato and arco and between chromaticism and tonality. In the finale, the themes from all of the preceding movements, excluding the prelude, return in the order they originally appeared. Finally, a motive from the fourth interlude is developed in an almost minimalist context to end the piece.
Year composed: 1999
Ensemble type: Chamber or Jazz Ensemble, Without Voice:Other Combinations, 2-5 players
Instrumentation: 1 Violin, 1 Viola