Little Chaconne

David Matthews (1943)

Little Chaconne 1996


In 1986 I wrote my Chaconne for orchestra, which was a meditation on a particular tragic event (the Battle of Towton, the bloodiest of the Wars of the Roses, as evoked by Geoffrey Hill in his poem-sequence called Funeral Music). Little Chaconne is also, in part, a meditation, and also tragic in tone, though there are no specific associations. I had the earlier piece in mind, however, when I wrote Little Chaconne, and its coda is deliberately modelled on that of Chaconne. The four-note chaconne theme appears on pizzicato bass in the brief introduction; then, in a quasi-funeral march, as the bass to a theme in the violas that grows out of it. This theme, together with the chaconne bass, appears in various transformations throughout the piece, reaching its most clearly defined and in tensest form near the end. There are two fugato interludes, the first very fast, the second the same music in a slower tempo. The hushed coda ends with a few fleeting bars of the fugato music. Little Chaconne was commissioned by the Bournemouth Sinfonietta and composed between February and May 1996. It is dedicated to Tamas Vasary.

David Matthews


No. 1 of Two Pieces for Strings

2.5.97, St Georges, Brandon Hill, Bristol: Bournemouth Sinfonietta/Tamas Vasary
3.5.97 The Lighthouse, Poole: Bournemouth Sinfonietta/Tamas Vasary
21.5.98 Hall for Cornwall, Truro: Bournemouth Sinfonietta/Nichae Moldoveanu
30.5.98 Wiltshire Music Centre, Bradford on Avon: Bournemouth Sinfonietta/Richard Studt
6.6.98 Dawlish Festival: Bournemouth Sinfonietta/Richard Studt
8.6.98 Bishop's Waltham, Hampshire: Bournemouth Sinfonietta/Richard Studt
24.8.00 Presteigne Festival: Presteigne Festival Orchestra/George Vass
23.5.01 University of West London: London College of Music Orchestra / Peter Sheppard Skaerved
16.1.02 University of West London: London College of Music Orchestra / Peter Sheppard Skaerved
28.4.07 Faversham, Kent: Oare String Orchestra / Peter Aviss