Owen Pallett’s violin concerto, written in 2011, was co-commissioned by the Barbican and the Toronto Symphony Orchestra. It is about 15 minutes long and is scored for solo violin, timpani, percussion, harp, celeste, and orchestral strings.
Future performances are planned. There are no recordings.
Mar 16, 2012 @ Barbican Hall, London, England
André de Ridder, conductor
Pekka Kuusisto, violin
Mar 7, 2013 @ Roy Thomson Hall, Toronto, ON
New Creations Festival Series
Toronto Symphony Orchestra
Carolyn Kuan, conductor
Pekka Kuusisto, violin
Conversation with Pekka Kuusisto
VIDEO Programme Note
Inspired by Pekka’s skill with Bach sonatas, this concerto was written to function as a solo violin sonata with string accompaniment. That is: the violin part could stand alone, but is played with an orchestral backdrop. It exists in a traditional Baroque sonata form, Adagio – Fugue – Andante – Presto. The style of violin writing is written in deference to the Baroque style, favourite multiple string voicing and austerity over flashy runs and extended technique. This was the product of years of my own study and performance of Bach and Locatelli’s solo violin writing.
As a composer I am interested in writing with an insistent use of material, developing a simple idea to the point of critical mass. This is—forgive me—an effort to impress upon the listener a feeling of trembling ascetic devotion in the face of the infinite.
Inspired by both Lou Harrison’s ‘spectral’ writing and the Lovecraft story “The colour out of space,” the orchestra has been tuned
scordatura, so that a quarter of the players are playing a quarter-tone flat, to create original and vivid colourations beneath Pekka’s more meditative chromatic parts. [source] Fugue
In the second movement, Shepard tones are used and a sort of tornado effect is intended.
Two reviewers believe the movement is not actually a fugue. Owen explained, “My father, a fan of fugues, didn’t hear the fugue either—and he had multiple listens and a score—until I pointed out that the soloist played the countermelody, not the subject. The subject and its inversions and transpositions are found in the orchestral part and they are spun out of nothingness rather than Stated With A Confident Exposition.”