Concerto for Viola

John Woolrich (1954)

Concerto for Viola 1993

2222 - 2200 - perc(2) - harp - strings
Duration 
20
Solist 
Genre 
Publisher 

My concerto is really a cycle of seven bleak and brooding songs-without-words. The viola sings, and the orchestra echoes its song in predominantly soft and gentle colours: flute, harp and tolling gongs. Each 'song' ends with a horn 'lebewohl' farewell and each contains an allusion, sometimes hidden, to an opera, a song or a madrigal. The trio from Cosi fan tutte, 'Soave sia il vento', invokes gentle winds to blow the lovers' ship back to shore; Penelope despairs, 'You, you alone make no returning' in 'Torna il tranquillo al mare' from Monteverdi's 'Il ritorno d'Ulisse in patria'; there is the ghost of Schumann's allusion to Beethoven's 'An die ferne Geliebte', and the reminiscences of Tristan ('No ship there on the sea?') and Idomeneo ('Placido e il mar, andiamo...'). The last song comes from Monteverdi's madrigal 'O sia tranquillo il mare': 'Whether the sea is calm or rough I will wait for you to return'. The singer's laments are carried away on the winds, and the music resolves into a slow, dark rocking.

Viola Concerto was commissioned by Paul Silverthorne and the Cheltenham International Festival, with funds from South West Arts.

John Woolrich

Performances 
2.7.95, Cheltenham International Festival, Cheltenham Town Hall: BBC Philharmonic Orchestra/Paul Silverthorne/Yan Pascal Tortelier
22.3.97 Bristol: Jane Atkins/Brunel Ensemble/Christopher Austin
29.11.99 St John's Smith Square, London: Paul Silverthorne/Kensington Symphony Orchestra/Russell Keable
19.1.04 Queen Elizabeth Hall, London: Jane Atkins/Orchestra of St John's/John Lubbock
2
Flute
1st doubling piccolo, 2nd doubling alto flute
2
Oboe
2
Clarinet
2nd doubling bass clarinet
2
Bassoon
2nd doubling contrabassoon
2
Horn
2
Trumpet
2
Percussion
12 thai gongs, 2 tam-tam, bass drum, spring coil
1
Harp
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