Sacred prelude, op. 1 : for string quintet
by Jonathan David Little (1984)
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A natural rubato is felt throughout this haunting, single-movement, chamber work for string quintet. Its much darker than usual instrumentation sees two violas and two cellos set against only one violin (which sometimes, like a single voice, soars high above the texture). The sound is reminiscent of that of ancient church music. Written in the stile antico, it opens with a "Plainsong", then comes the main central "Anthem". There is a brief reprise of the opening theme, before the work closes with a more emphatic "Fantasia" (where the sense of rubato becomes almost improvisatory). The work, as a whole, may be said to comprise a poignant "prayer" for strings.
Instrumentation: Violin, 2 violas, 2 cellos.
Duration: 11 min.
Difficulty: Advanced — High (sustained) viola parts, requiring much control.
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