Two's Company

Thea Musgrave (1928)

Two's Company 2005

2.1+ca.2.2/3.2.2.1/hrp/str
Duration 
21
Genre 
Commissioner 
Publisher 

This work was commissioned by the BBC for Evelyn Glennie and Nicholas Daniel. It was an exciting challenge to write a dramatic work for two such dissimilar instruments. I decided that I would strongly dramatize this difference before bringing them harmoniously together. Thus at the beginning of the work the two soloists are standing as far apart from each other as possible: the percussion downstage right, behind the celli, and the oboe off stage left. For each of the four ensuing sections the soloists move around the orchestra to different positions and these changes are always dramatically motivated. Throughout the two soloists are aware of each other and play with each other's attention, but only come together musically and physically in the very last section.

The slow first section is marked Desolate, lonely: When the oboe first enters he responds initially to the cor anglais, and then later to a solo clarinet. This encourages him to go on stage and take a position near his fellow woodwinds which precipitates the second movement. The solo percussion, hoping to attract the oboe's attention moves to the vibraphone which is set closer at hand.

The second section, Frivolous, playful is a jaunty scherzo, mostly in 5/4 rhythm, and for a time it seems that the oboe responds favourably to the percussion, but then the horns attract his attention and he eventually moves so as to be close to them and the harp.

In frustration the solo percussion moves to the drums [congas, tomtoms and bongos]. The third section Dramatic: furioso/espressivo is a series of confrontations. Aggressive music for the percussion [supported by strings and brass] alternates with an expressive solo oboe [accompanied by horns and harp]. These alternations come closer and closer together ending in a big climax. The oboe finally turns to the percussion and "invites" her to listen. The percussion responds and so sets the scene for both soloists to come down stage center and bonding for the final section: Warm leading to Passionate and finally Exultant a whirling coda.

Thea Musgrave

Performances 
31.8.07 BBC Proms, London: Evelyn Glennie/Nicholas Daniel/BBC Symphony Orchestra/Jiri Belohlavek
2
Flute
2
Oboe
II=ca
2
Clarinet
2
Bassoon
3
Horn
2
Trumpet
2
Trombone
1
Tuba
1
Harp
(Esc)