Celebratio, per viola sola, Op. 29/IV

viola solo
duration 10'
composed in 2005

dedication: to David McDuff

frontispiece: "In honorem diei natali Davidi Guglielmi McDuff, sexaginta anno abhinc nati. Ad celebrandam artificem ingeniosum, tam in littoris doctis imum quam in rnusicis peritum. Cui quibu dam tributum onori auctore JRC dedicatur."

published by Novello/Wise Music (see here)
on sale: MUSNOV100509 EAN 5020679006177




Metier MEX 77209 (future release - in preparation)
by Peter Sheppard Skærved, viola

programme note:

Justin Connolly wrote Celebratio, per viola sola in 2005 as a 60th birthday gift for the eminent translator David McDuff. Connolly and McDuff often played the duo repertoire for viola and piano together; of the repertoire for solo viola, McDuff recalls that Connolly was particularly interested in the Reger solo suites Op. 131d and the Hindemith solo sonata Op. 25 No. 1.

Connolly had already in 1994-5 written a Celebratio super Ter in lyris Leo for three violas and accordion, in memory of Lionel Tertis. Despite sharing an opus number, basic title and central instrument, the later work appears to be otherwise musically unrelated. Its tightly argued structure and lyrical (while energetic) character is surely a tribute to the “talented artist, learned in both literature and musical skill” who is the work’s dedicatee.

The work is concerned with the interplay of contrasting material both within and across the three movements. The music has a lyrical quality, with melody – even if this is not always melody in the ‘cantabile’ sense – prominent, in preference to percussive or fragmented textures. Dynamics are generally graduated rather than pointillistic, underpinning the ebb and flow of phrase structures. Where shorter gestures predominate, these generally coalesce into extended passages of expressive melodic writing, which lead towards the climactic points in the work. The first movement, in a modified arch-structure, resembles the archetypal first movement of the classical sonata structure both in its bold assertiveness (from the emphatic opening gesture onwards) and in the subsequent development and contrast of distinctive thematic ideas. Glissandi, natural harmonics, layered double-stopping, and short inverted motifs are prominent. The second movement is a Beethovenian triple-time scherzo, which advances with perpetuum mobile-like lightness from an opening arpeggiated pattern which clearly invokes E minor 7th harmony, taking in a riot of playful displaced rhythms, clear invocations of the waltz, and occasional slower-moving passages on the way. The final movement incorporates elements of the previous two, revisiting and combining a number of prominent ideas; it contains at once the most disjointed and the slowest music in the work, but also, towards the end, the most extended melodic passage, leading to an emphatic coda.

Celebratio, per viola sola lasts approximately 10 minutes.

Andrew McBirnie



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