Two Caprices for Violin and Orchestra (2016)

Violin and symphony orchestra // 10 mins
Orchestration: 2(pic).2.2.2/4.2.3.1/timp.3perc/hp/solo violin/strings
[Commissioned by Orchestre de Pau Pays de Béarn]

Programme Note

One of the great pleasures of being composer in residence for OPPB (Orchestre de Pau Pays de Béarn) has been enjoying the exciting repertoire they perform at their concerts, and encountering fantastic international renown soloists, including Nemanja Radulovic – whom I saw perform a truly remarkable interpretation of Tchaikovsky’s famous Violin Concerto in 2015 with OPPB.

I was really inspired by his effortless, highly musical & virtuosic style, and I really hoped to compose for him one day. Now this dream is already being realised (thank you OPPB) – with these Two Caprices for Violin & Orchestra.

There are inspired by Nemanja and his flamboyant, yet sensitive style; and by our shared love of classic virtuosic violin repertoire.

I suppose they could be described as being ‘post-modern’ Caprices, as they continuously flirt & play with references to classic violin & orchestral repertoire of the romantic and early 20th century periods.

‘Intoxicated’ is a kind of waltz – but a waltz with five steps, rather than usual three! The violin dances with great agility over the top of this corrupted viennese dance, with unexpected harmonic shifts which give the piece a slightly ‘intoxicated’ feel – hence the title. It begins and ends with a gentle, yearning call from the Violin, over tremolo strings, a taste of the more sensitive and pensive side of our protagonist.

‘Militant’ explores a wilder, savage side of the violin. The main is theme marked ‘Selvaggio’ in the score (which means: ‘savage’ Italian), and it rides on top of a tough hip-hop inspired march from the orchestra. The confident, single-minded attitude of this piece gives it it’s title ‘Militant’. At times the violin is joined in unison with the orchestral violins, and other times the violin interacts with the trumpet and woodwind. In the middle of the piece, the violin shows off it’s dexterity, persuasively conversing with an insistent triplet pattern from the woodwinds & strings, before entering a moment of magical reflection, and then returning to the militant theme.

© Gabriel Prokofiev, June 2016

The first performance was given by Orchestre de Pau Pays de Béarn, solo violin: Nemanja Radulovic, conducted by Faycal Karoui at the Le Scène Nationale de Parvis à Tarbes, France on 22nd June 2016.

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