Jump to content
J. Lee Graham

Divertimento a 3 in B-flat, for 2 Violins and Violoncello

Recommended Posts

 

Divertimento a 3 in B-flat, for 2 Violins and Violoncello

I.          Allegro di molto

II.         Andante

III.        Allegro giusto, alla breve

Composed: April 4-17, 2017

Style:  Classical, circa 1790

I enjoy spending my lunch hours at work productively when I have the energy, sketching or doing exercises.  A couple of weeks ago I started a counterpoint exercise that I worked on for the next couple of days, and it turned out well.  The thought occurred to me that perhaps it might serve as a movement in a larger work, in which I might also use some old ideas that had been waiting around in the back of my mind for years, and the idea for this little divertimento was born.  Most of this work was written by hand while lunching in my car.    

The term divertimento denotes a multi-movement work that is light in character, for the diversion or amusement of the audience or players (or both), as the name implies.  This one is in three movements, and is modeled after similar works I have played and heard by Joseph Haydn (1732-1809).  It is quite short, much like Haydn’s examples, lasting just under 10 minutes.    

Description:

The energetic first movement (Allegro di molto), in sonata-allegro form, is dominated by a dynamic 4-measure opening motive that I have had in my mind for many years, which I found opportunities to develop throughout the movement.  The contrasting second theme, smoother and calmer than the first, is stated canonically by the two violins, accompanied by a chromatic accompaniment figure in the ‘cello adding harmonic complexity.  The opening theme is then restated and developed into a codetta to close the exposition, which is then repeated.  The development section treats part of main theme in close canon, modulating to distant keys to develop the second theme before making its way back to the tonic B-flat for the recapitulation, and the movement ends with a short coda, again based on the opening theme.   

The second movement (Andante), in the subdominant key of E-flat, is in the simplest of binary forms (ABAB), and begins somewhat statically, setting a mood of calm to contrast with the verve of first movement before gradually becoming more florid and interesting starting in m. 6.  The second theme is a pretty melody I have had in the back of my mind for at least 30 years, patiently waiting for the right application, and now it has a place at last.  The second time it comes around, the eighth note accompaniment is changed to sixteenth notes for variety.   The movement closes with a very short coda, a varied restatement of mm. 11-12.

The third and final movement (Allegro giusto, alla breve), originally conceived as the aforementioned counterpoint exercise, is a light-hearted fugue in an Italianate style, on an original 6-measure subject reminiscent of Handel.  There are four statements of the subject by each of the instruments, including statements in stretto and an inverted statement, interspersed with episodes developing foregoing material.   The movement closes with a coda based on the rhythm and contour of the last measure of the subject, on a pedal B-flat in the 1st violin and ‘cello alternately, ending in a plagal cadence.

Concerns:

1st Movement – I’m a little worried that perhaps I have overdeveloped the opening motive by repeating it too often, even if I vary it – particularly the four chords at the beginning of it.  I’m open to the idea of reworking the movement slightly if I get a lot of feedback that this is a problem.  I love developing themes, but I want to avoid monotony.    

3rd Movement – I’ve been writing counterpoint as a serious avocation for years, having listened to a lot of it and read several books on the subject.  I even authored the very popular “Fugue Crash-Course” here before I knew as much as I know now, yet I still feel insecure and mystified.  I try to proceed confidently, but since I have taught myself everything I know, I constantly worry that I’m making mistakes out of ignorance.  It has happened before several times.  I want to make sure what I’m doing is “by the book,” so if any of you notice anything in this fugue that you know for certain is wrong or mishandled, I want to know about it.

I hope you enjoy this little piece, and thank you for your kind attention.                  

PDF

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Lovely. You should be proud of this. Even my typical disinterest for this genre of music succumbed to the interest you put in here.
I do kind of agree with your concern about the first movement. The melodic motive doesn't need to change necessarily, but it should lead to something new or end on a different sort of cadence sometimes. However, in the development it might be nice to have a sort of contrasting theme, be it entirely new or polyphonically related. I also found some issue with the development's chords, especially when the neighboring tones didn't line up like in m. 70, for example.

The only kind of not-worth-mentioning issue with the fugue is the clashes created by your held tones. Normally this would be frowned upon and normally require figured bass to back the composer's reasoning, but most people probably wouldn't be able to tell. My main concern with the movement was the end. You set up V/IV chord with the last few bars and resolve to I?? It just sounded awkward to me.

Again, great work, overall. 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for listening and giving your feedback!  

4 minutes ago, Monarcheon said:

The melodic motive doesn't need to change necessarily, but it should lead to something new or end on a different sort of cadence sometimes.

This is what I was afraid of.  I should have listened to my own instincts.  I'll see if I can come up with a way to vary this a bit.  

5 minutes ago, Monarcheon said:

However, in the development it might be nice to have a sort of contrasting theme, be it entirely new or polyphonically related. 

I never thought of this.  The development may be too short anyway, but I'm always worried about being too long-winded in the development, as so many composers are.  It ruins the balance of the movement, in my opinion.  I like my developments tight and concise.  

9 minutes ago, Monarcheon said:

I also found some issue with the development's chords, especially when the neighboring tones didn't line up like in m. 70, for example.

I didn't think the momentary dissonances in that canonic treatment were offensive, but maybe the answer is to eliminate those neighboring tones.  I'll think on it.  

12 minutes ago, Monarcheon said:

The only kind of not-worth-mentioning issue with the fugue is the clashes created by your held tones.

I'm not sure what you mean.  Is there a particular example?  I'll have to give those another look.  

13 minutes ago, Monarcheon said:

You set up V/IV chord with the last few bars and resolve to I?? It just sounded awkward to me.

Okay, you're the second person who has had an issue with this.  I thought I was just setting up what is in effect a plagal cadence (IV-I), which I tried to support with the A-flats in the penultimate measure, but obviously it's confusing to everybody's ear but mine.  I'm not married to it, easily fixed.

You rock!  Thanks very much!   

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, J. Lee Graham said:

I'm not sure what you mean.  Is there a particular example?  I'll have to give those another look.  

Places like m. 15 where you jump up to a dissonance after a resolving tone. It's not wrong, just sounds off the first time through. 

1 hour ago, J. Lee Graham said:

Okay, you're the second person who has had an issue with this.  I thought I was just setting up what is in effect a plagal cadence (IV-I), which I tried to support with the A-flats in the penultimate measure, but obviously it's confusing to everybody's ear but mine.

It would be fine if you didn't have the A-flats in the second to last measure. The plagal cadence means you have to actually end on on the IV chord first before you can resolve. I can see from the score why you might think you did that, but it doesn't come out harmonically as well.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'll have to give m. 15 and similar places another look.  

I'm trying to figure out how to change the ending.  It sounds fine to me, but if I'm the only one who thinks so, that's not much use.  Thanks very much!  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


×
×
  • Create New...