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Here's something I composed about 2 years ago (and I think was my first post to this forum!). I recently went through and updated the score and audio, thought I'd put them here for others to (perhaps) enjoy. This was my attempt at a pastiche Romantic viola concerto. Violists don't have much in the repertoire, and I was looking to expand it. It hearkens back to my tonal days, and proves that I don't just compose modal music!

There are three movements, like a traditional concerto: moderately fast, slow, fast. All told, the work is around 35 minutes long, so feel free to listen to it by movement.

I'd love to hear your suggestions and feedback. Happy listening!

 

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1 hour ago, Left Unexplained said:

one thing I would suggest, if you could somehow work an Indian model into these I think it would really help bring unity to your themes

If only I knew where to find one... oh, wait... I do.

 

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1st movement - You have glissandi in the strings in the introduction which I didn't see in the score?  The introduction is very effective and foreboding!  This is probably my favorite movement of the three.  Your style throughout this concerto reminds me of Sibelius in many places.  I like the lone tutti orchestra hit you employ as a kind of punctuation mark.  Your secondary theme is quite beautiful!  Nice choice giving it to French Horn with the viola soloing over it.  The solo viola sections remind me of a Sibelius concerto for a string instrument as well.  I love the section starting around 11:09 - it is quite intriguing!  I wish that section had gone on longer.  Great viola cadenza!  Just from listening to it, it sounds challenging in it's polyphony and use of triple/quadruple stops.  Is there a particular piece you felt was your biggest influence in writing this piece?  I felt like the ending to this movement kind of snuck up on me unexpectedly.  Great job overall!

2nd movement - What I notice in this movement that I didn't mention in the previous movements' comments is that you are very good at writing great solo lines for various instruments throughout the orchestra.  You have great long leading melodic lines in this - I just felt like they ended their phrases quite underwhelmingly and unobtrusively where I would maybe have expected them to intensify even more as the phrase progressed.  For some odd reason I couldn't open the score pdf for this movement.  I like how you use glockenspiel at just the very end of both this and the previous movement.

3rd movement - I like the tarantella-like feel to this movement!  I was surprised by the many places that didn't conform with this movements marking of "Vivacissimo".  I expected a much more consistently intense and driving piece from that.  There are some surprising sweet melodies in this with a nice touch of glockenspiel to ornament the viola.  I like the dramatic way you announce the return of the tarantella-like section with a timpani roll - this certainly has it's own unique structure.  I love the dissonant chords you employ so well to create drama at around 6:25.  In this movement I felt like the finale had a nice build-up to it and led naturally to the end which was great.

Overall this was a great concerto!  I really enjoyed the interplay between the solo viola and the orchestra and it's many solo instruments and soli sections as well!  I felt like almost every instrument of the orchestra got a chance at a solo as well so that's a plus.  I know you study lot's of scores so I wondered throughout listening to this whether your intimate knowledge of other composer's works in any way hindered your originality here since you also mentioned that this is supposed to be a pastiche.  I write tonal pieces as well and I am not consciously making a pastiche when I write them although maybe that's a discussion for a different [and most probably controversial] forum topic.  Nice job!

Edited by PaperComposer
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6 minutes ago, PaperComposer said:

1st movement - You have glissandi in the strings in the introduction which I didn't see in the score?  The introduction is very effective and foreboding!  This is probably my favorite movement of the three.  Your style throughout this concerto reminds me of Sibelius in many places.  I like the lone tutti orchestra hit you employ as a kind of punctuation mark.  Your secondary theme is quite beautiful!  Nice choice giving it to French Horn with the viola soloing over it.  The solo viola sections remind me of a Sibelius concerto for a string instrument as well.  I love the section starting around 11:09 - it is quite intriguing!  I wish that section had gone on longer.  Great viola cadenza!  Just from listening to it, it sounds challenging in it's polyphony and use of triple/quadruple stops.  Is there a particular piece you felt was your biggest influence in writing this piece?  I felt like the ending to this movement kind of snuck up on me unexpectedly.  Great job overall!

Yes, it should have been more of a portamento, but I see that the slur stops just before the note. I had originally written the entire phrase to be slurred—unfeasible due to bowing constraints, of course—and changed the score to be more playable. Unfortunately, the audio remains like the original score. Great ear!

Yes, the Sibelius was definitely on my mind when writing this. I didn't try to borrow his style, it just happens to be my style, too. 😉 

I'm glad you enjoyed the themes. And I'm sorry the section at 11:09 didn't go on long enough!

The cadenza hasn't been "playtested," so there's no telling what will be changed should this ever become a live performance.

11 minutes ago, PaperComposer said:

2nd movement - What I notice in this movement that I didn't mention in the previous movements' comments is that you are very good at writing great solo lines for various instruments throughout the orchestra.  You have great long leading melodic lines in this - I just felt like they ended their phrases quite underwhelmingly and unobtrusively where I would maybe have expected them to intensify even more as the phrase progressed.  For some odd reason I couldn't open the score pdf for this movement.  I like how you use glockenspiel at just the very end of both this and the previous movement.

Why, thank you! I tend to be very inclusivist even in my personal life, so I guess it's no surprise I wouldn't want any instrument left out, either! I sometimes am afraid that if I swell a melody too much, it will sweep me off my feet and on to a place in the music I hadn't foretold, so I tend to be more conservative in that regard. I'm also a minimalist in style and dislike loud and long dramatic outbursts; perhaps that has something to do with it, too.

I'm sorry the score wouldn't open! Sometimes I have to click and close out of a PDF link on this forum several times before I can view it.

13 minutes ago, PaperComposer said:

3rd movement - I like the tarantella-like feel to this movement!  I was surprised by the many places that didn't conform with this movements marking of "Vivacissimo".  I expected a much more consistently intense and driving piece from that.  There are some surprising sweet melodies in this with a nice touch of glockenspiel to ornament the viola.  I like the dramatic way you announce the return of the tarantella-like section with a timpani roll - this certainly has it's own unique structure.  I love the dissonant chords you employ so well to create drama at around 6:25.  In this movement I felt like the finale had a nice build-up to it and led naturally to the end which was great.

I originally just named this movement "Finale," but felt that it needed to be more of a tempo marking in order to comply with the other two movements' titles. You're right, though, it doesn't stay "vivacissimo" the whole time.

Ah, the sweet melodies. This is the first (and only) time the work rests in D major, which was done on purpose as a sort of "conflict resolution" device. Since this is the final movement for an instrument that has so few concerti devoted to it, I wanted to make sure it was worth the while! The concerto needed to end in its relative major key (of course!), and what better way to effect that than with stirring melodies in the closing movement?

I, too, love the buildup to the cadenza at 6:25. Its dissonance speaks of unrest and uncertainty, and the viola answers with a difficult solo passage leading up to the grand finale.

18 minutes ago, PaperComposer said:

Overall this was a great concerto!  I really enjoyed the interplay between the solo violas and the orchestra and it's many solo instruments and soli sections as well!  I felt like almost every instrument of the orchestra got a chance at a solo as well so that's a plus.  I know you study lot's of scores so I wondered throughout listening to this whether your intimate knowledge of other composer's works in any way hindered your originality here since you also mentioned that this is supposed to be a pastiche.  I write tonal pieces as well and I am not consciously making a pastiche when I write them although maybe that's a discussion for a different [and most probably controversial] forum topic.  Nice job!

Thank you for your kind remarks!

In regards to "pastiche," I suppose I use the term somewhat relatively. Romanticism isn't my normal style, and to compose this way meant putting myself in the mindset of Romantic composers whose works I enjoy and have listened to extensively. These were chiefly Sibelius, Dvorak and Grieg. I did not look at any of the scores from their great concerti; I merely "felt" their works when composing the various passages and themes that comprise my work.

In essence, yes, I think my originality was hindered—although I greatly enjoy what I've written here. Since I was writing "against my grain," so to speak, and trying to emulate a former style, I called this work "pastiche," perhaps incorrectly. Were this someone's natural style and were their intent other than to copy the style of a certain period, I don't know that it could still be called pastiche. Certainly, I don't think tonal harmony is pastiche, nor do I think anyone that employs it is writing pastiche. (I do see how that is implied in my post—my apologies.)

To summarize, I don't think pastiche should carry negative connotations. A composer should write what he likes (unless he's trying to make money, at which point he's writing for an audience) and if it sounds like it belongs in another time period, so be it.

You're right, though, I don't want this thread to turn into a debate about what is or isn't pastiche.

Thanks a million for taking the time to review this work... it means a lot to me!

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19 minutes ago, Tónskáld said:

You're right, though, I don't want this thread to turn into a debate about what is or isn't pastiche.

The reason I mentioned it is because I've seen another composers thread turn into just such a debate!  LoL

20 minutes ago, Tónskáld said:

Thanks a million for taking the time to review this work... it means a lot to me!

You're welcome!  I enjoyed listening and commenting.

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Great concerto, I love the viola, and this piece is exciting as I think you're a viola player.

First mov

Good intro, in the romantic style.  Pertinent accentuations as when the celli and counterbasses become a bit active. There are many cadenzas or quasi (with little background, as a recitative which brings a very tranquil mood. although it makes the movement a bit long to my taste.

I see you are using slurs for expression in the strings. Some people discouraged me to do it. What do you think? I've read that Brahms sometimes wrote double slurs, one for expression, the other to establish the phrasing. I usually put a "legato" indication (I see you do it sometimes, too). In my opinion, whenever it is clear to understand it... it's OK.

I find the Andente more coherent, perhaps with some motives quite romantic. I observe some ppp dynamics in the winds. Mr. Alan Belkin advices, in general, to stay between pp and ff for all the orchestra but timpani (within can do fff) and strings (which can play ppp and fff). The piano is different and can do also the whole range. 

The Finale is a nice contrast to the slower movements.

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BRAVISSIMO!!! BRAVISSIMO!!! This could easily become canon for the viola repertoire.  

Critiques: (Just adding to what has already been said!)

1.) I love the intro but I do question a 56 measure introduction.  I wonder if it could be condensed

2.) I'm not sure if I agree with the divisi typesetting in your solo Viola part.  There are times when it make perfect sense; at other times, it may be more cumbersome. The general practice is place it all on  one beam since opposite notes mean something else for strings.

3.)Make sure you label the Viola solo in the score.

4.) Change piatti to percussion. The abbreviation is "Perc."  

5.) Watch your bowings.  You have some impossible bowings in your strings parts.

6/) Meas. 142, you sure you want those quarter notes short? Especially since it is parallel with a legato passage.

7.) Measure 327: Change the septuplet to just a triplet. That's how it's functioning,

8.) Might not need that A4 in the viola.

9.) Last two bars., I would suggest having perfect fifths in the cellos. It would let that chord ring even more!

10.) You're going to have the time of your life making a piano reduction out of this 🙂 HAVE FUN!!!

 

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