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soar : for solo cello and orchestra

by Douglas Knehans (2004, this version: 2006)

Score Sample

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Audio Sample

From the CD Selected works by Douglas Knehans

This sample is of the Cello with piano version of this work

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Selected works by Douglas Knehans


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Selected works by Douglas Knehans : vol 3.

Version: This product features the Cello with piano version of this work

Library shelf no. CD 2527 [Available for loan]



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soar : for solo cello and orchestra / Douglas Knehans

Library shelf no. Q 784.274186/KNE 1 [Available for loan]

Display all products featuring this work (2 more)  

Work Overview

soar was written in response to a long-held desire to write a work that would capitalise on Christian Wojtowicz's cello sound, style and technique. Most of all I sought to write for his ability to translucently and constantly evolve new and unique colourations and inflections of expressive, carefully moulded musical line.

With this as a background, I set out to write a cello and piano work that I could not help thinking of as a short score for a cello concerto. This led to thinking of the work as a deeply hybridised, even consciously contradictory amalgam of sources: chamber music for cello and piano, yet big and dramatic music suited to a concerto; a chromatic, 'roving' harmonic structure that is yet rooted in firm centres around E; a thorny, expressive language that is florid and exhibitionistic yet one that is also lyrical, passionate and intimately, inwardly emotional.

From this powerful set of contradictory impulses the work took shape. Over the initial few measures the piano unfolds a bass line that captures the harmonic 'contradictions' of the work: a firm centre of E, extended and elaborated through progression to the minor third above via progressive chromatic unfolding. Insistent accented sixths articulate implicit rhythms that are overtly taken up as the work unfolds. The cello enters boldly and dramatically: unfolding triplet sixteenths that form an important basis for the fast sections of the work. These three fast sections are separated by two slow, expressive and exposed sections of related thematic character thus forming the loosely knit five-part 'rondo' type structure of the work.

The style of argument used in elaborating materials in soar is very distinctly similar to that of all of my recent works: a reliance on traditional motivic and thematic development of ideas, balanced with an approach to repetition of ideas that allows the musician and audience to re-engage with the traditionally formative elements of music.

But beyond all of this, soar is about the human spirit and our lifelong dance with life's challenges and even demons. From its searching and worried opening measures to the bright climactic final moments of the piece the work seems to constantly betray its concerto-like drama of contrasts. The work seeks to capture some of the breath and texture of life: struggle and triumph, defeat and redemption, nobility and loss.

Work Details

Year: 2004, this version: 2006

Instrumentation: 2 flutes, 2 oboes, 2 clarinets in B flat, 2 bassoons, 2 horns in F, trumpet in C, trombone, tuba, timpani, percussion (1 player), harp, solo cello, strings.

Duration: 12 min.

Difficulty: Advanced

Dedication note: Dedicated to Christian Wojtowicz

First performance: by Christian Wojtowicz, Tze Law Chan — 10 Dec 06. Australian International Summer Orchestra Institute


Performances of this work

Unknown date.

10 Dec 06: Australian International Summer Orchestra Institute. Featuring Christian Wojtowicz, Tze Law Chan.

5 Aug 05: Conservatorium of Music, University of Tasmania, Hobart. Featuring Christian Wojtowicz, David Bollard.

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