Olga’s Miniatures (2017)

Solo Violin + Symphony Orchestra // 9 mins
[Commissioned by Andrey Boreyko & Naples Philharmonic]
Orchestration: 1.pic.2.2(bcl).2(cbn)/2.2.2/timp.4perc/hp/solo violin/strings


Programme Note

This is a fantasy for violin & orchestra, inspired by works from Olga Hirshhorn’s ‘mouse’ collection of miniatures.

The music is not a direct description of these works of art rather, it is a flight of imagination inspired by them. Reflecting that sense creative freedom we feel, that special state our minds enter, when we experience a special art exhibition or art collection.

The fantasy goes through four stages, presenting four musical miniatures. The introduction is an expression of the initial wonder at the variety and energy of the collection. Then curiosity which evolves into mesmerisation as we are drawn deeper into the geometry of abstract works by Albers, Vytlacil and Vasarely with repeating and rotating five-note motifs. As the motifs evolve and echo around the orchestral, they spiral into wilder brush strokes, inspired by the freer more expressive abstract works of De Kooning, Loy & Tobey.

Then, a slow tempo as the point of inspiration changes to the dark wooden pieces by Nevelson, and also a dark metal work by David Smith. The solo violin pensive over dark bass chords from the double basses, low brass and winds.

The journey ends with a melodic smile, inspired by one of the most charming works in the collection, an untitled portrait on a ceramic tile fragment, by Picasso, from 1962 and clearly of his second wife and muse Jacqueline. The arrival at a smiling face inspires melody and simple harmonies, and daydreaming on the life behind the smile.

Though both my parents were visual artists, and I grew up spending a lot of time in my dad’s studio surround by his paintings and sculptures, this is the first piece I’ve composed directly influenced works of visual art. The Hirshhorn ‘mouse’ collection has been a truly inspiring source for composing, and so has the chance to compose for Naples Philharmonic and Andrey Boreyko again – this time with another remarkable soloist Leticia Moreno.

© Gabriel Prokofiev, March 2017

The first performances was given on 30th March 2017, at Artis Naples, 5833 Pelican Bay Blvd, Naples, FL 34108, USA,s by the Naples Philharmonic, conducted by Andrey Boreyko, featuring Leticia Moreno on solo violin.

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