Antiphonies, Op. 4

small orchestra
2.2(1).2.2 2perc (or

duration 13½'

composed in 1966


published by Novello/Wise Music
(originally published by Oxford University Press)


first performed on 10 August 1966, at Norfolk, Conn., USA, by the Orchestra of Yale University Summer School, conducted by the composer

June 1970, London Mozart Players, conducted by Roger Norrington

6 December 1973, LSO, conducted by Norman Del Mar



programme note:

Antiphonies was commissioned by the Yale University Summer School of Music, and first performed at Norfolk, Conn., USA, on 10 August 1966. As its title implies, the piece emphasizes the spatial distribution of the forces used; the five differently constituted instrumental groups state, comment upon, answer, and contradict one another's material in a concertante manner.

The five main sections of the work treat the principles of antiphony in contrasting ways. The opening Lento, which is concerned with broad masses of sound periodically interrupted by more active material, sets out the characteristic timbres of the groups; it reappears several times in the course of the work. Energico, a quick movement which follows without a break, assembles and disperses, often in polyrhythmic ostinati, a number of fragmentary and explosive patterns, before disintegrating into slow chordal music reminiscent of the opening. A close-textured section now follows, Grazioso, in which the ensembles blend together much of the time. The Lento reappears briefly, leading to Spiritoso, in which the concertante implications of the previous sections are articulated in the parts for the two string ensembles. The final Lento resumes the character of the opening by way of a series of cadenza-like outbursts for winds and percussion, and the massed sounds of the various groups are transformed and finally dispersed.



I. Lento, leading to
II. Scherzando - Lento - Grazioso - Lento - Energico, leading to
III. Doppio piu lento.

ANTIPHONlES was commissioned by the Yale University Summer School of Music, and first performed at Norfolk, Conn., in August 1966; the English premiere was given by the London Mozart Players under Roger Norrington in June I 970 with financial support from the SPNM. The work is a ooncertante for five groups of players, who exchange leading and subordinate roles in the manner suggested by the title. The overall shape is that of an introduction, followed by an allegro in three contrasting sections, with a coda having something of the style of a cadenza, in that the groups discharge in decorative flourishes the tension accumulated during the rest of the piece. During these flourishes, which are prefigured elsewhere in the central allegro, use is made of aleatoric elements, often fixed as to pitch, but not always as to rhythm or ordering; these provide a functional contrast to the chordal and contrapuntal discourse characteristic of the piece as a whole.



other comments:

Originally published by Oxford University Press