scoring: viola and orchestra (33(ca)33(cbn)/3221(+ripieno ens 1111/1110)/3perc/hp.pf/str)
duration: 25 minutes
dedication: for Frederick Riddle
commissioned by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra with funds provided by the Arts Council of Great Britain
status: available for performance
First performed on 9 March 1975 at the Royal Festival Hall, by Frederick Riddle with the RPO conducted by Sir Charles Groves
(Broadcast BBC Radio 3, Thu 5th Feb 1976, 21:05 and Thu 22nd Dec 1983, 21:45)
Anima nostra sicut passer crepta est de laqueo vanantium
Our soul is escaped as a bird out of the snare of the fowlers
This sentence expresses something of the emotional and spiritual character of the music and as such may perhaps be felt to indicate musical intention better than the more abstract and functional title of concerto. However, the piece is not in any way programmatic, and it was not until it was completed that I became fully aware how often its event suggested the imagery of flight, struggle, capture or escape.
The music is in three movements, which play without a break. The first is an exposition of the basic material, the second a development, while the third is a dramatic contrast to its predecessors, being reflective in character and much slower in tempo. A constant feature of the music is the setting up of rhythmic situations which are eroded and changed by the emergence of free, cadenza-like playing from both soloist and orchestra; in this respect at least the work is a concerto for orchestra as well as for viola.
Anima was written for Frederick Riddle, and is intended to celbrate the remarkable qualities of his playing as they have appeared to me over a period of more than 20 years. Virtuosity, certainly, but also a marvellous quality of line. Expressive power, of course, but also a great feeling for what lies within or behind a phrase or a work. In fact a gift of musical perception, for which we are all happy to feel grateful.