About this work:
Divertimento for flute, viola and harpsichord was completed on March 22, 1971. It is a three-movement work lasting approximately four minutes in which a slightly longer, more reflective, slow movement is framed by two extremely active fast movements. All three movements tend to employ the flute and viola in opposition to the harpsichord.
However, at no time except for part of the slow movement, where it accompanies the long sustained lines of the flute and viola, does the harpsichord play a subordinate role.
Both outer movements use a modified sonata-allegro plan in which an exposition presents two contrasting themes and a recapitulation briefly restates one. Since the expositions are already so developmental, there is only the trace of a development section in the first movement and none at all in the last. The first movement is written in
energetic four-part counterpoint, quite chromatic, in which the lines for the flute and viola function largely as a pair, occasionally imitating each other, but almost never interfering with each's assigned plane by crossing voices. The harpsichord enters rather like an afterthought and proceed as if unaware of the presence of the other two instruments. The final movement is by comparison more relaxed, dance-like, sometimes humorous, always, I hope, entertaining without ever being frivolous. Among the more apparent techniques used
in this movement are the canonic beginnings of both the exposition and the recapitulation. Here the flute and viola are once again paired against the harpsichord, which enters only after six measures imitating with an inverted subject in stretto; the last section exactly reverses the procedure. The swift four-part counterpoint consists mostly of stepwise movement based on chains of different diatonic tetrachords. Both outer movements
conclude with the flute and viola maintaining their independence of the harpsichord by ending by themselves in the first movement while permitting the harpsichord to do the same, equally quizzically, in the last.
The slow movement, although more quiet, is more intense. The form is basically ternary, the harpsichord alone presenting a varied restatement of the first section. The use of contrasting thirds, either vertically or horizontally, gives this movement a suggestion of bitonality.
Except for the slow movement, Divertimento displays an unflagging pulse interrupted only in the codas or in the last movement also before the recapitulation.
To render certain passages possible, it is expected that both manuals of a two-manual harpsichord will then be utilized.
Score and parts available from Mira Music Associates. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
Review: "Viola and flute join in opposition to the harpsichord in a 4-minute work, Divertimento (1971) by Allen Brings. A slow movement is framed by extremely fast movements of energetic counterpoint. The last movement is dance-like, humorous, entertaining, without being frivolous, in this composition published by Seesaw Music Corp."
Frances Bedford, 1974
Version: flute, viola & harpsichord
Year composed: 1971
Ensemble type: Chamber or Jazz Ensemble, Without Voice:Other Combinations, 2-5 players
Instrumentation: 1 Flute, 1 Harpsichord, 1 Viola
Instrumentation notes: Two-manual harpsichord required.