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Decadent Purity : concerto for viola d'amore and ensemble

by Jack Symonds (2016)

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Work Overview

"Could this have been love? Grant it to be one form of love, for even though at first glance it seemed to retain its pristine form forever, simply repeating that form over and over again, it too had its own unique sort of debasement and decay. And it was a debasement more evil than that of any normal kind of love. Indeed, of all the kinds of decay in this world, decadent purity is the most malignant." Yukio Mishima, Confessions of a Mask

The seven movements of this concerto explore the shifting weights of fanatical obsession and desire. The first and sixth simply investigate how we hear the sacred construction of a scale, the second, fourth and seventh deal with the accrual and dispersal of unstable energy and the third and fifth are interior slow movements reaching back to a curdled and disappeared romanticism. The centre, mostly hidden, is the solo viola d'amore's tuning of its 7 strings to a chord of D minor. Every other process tries to disrupt and desecrate the natural harmonic construction of this ancient instrument. The other instruments act like a modern mirror, offering the viola d'amore an at-times unkind reflection of its material. The soloist's relationship with the surrounding ensemble isn't combative: they often amplify and extend the feelings and thoughts of the soloist, and occasionally present an entirely opposite direction and alternative path.

Work Details

Year: 2016

Instrumentation: Viola d'amore solo, 2 violins, 2 cellos, double bass, piccolo, bass flute, clarinet in Bb/bass clarinet, contrabass clarinet, Wagner tuba, percussion (obbligato part).

Duration: 26 min.

Difficulty: Advanced

Dedication note: Dedicated to James Wannan

Commission note: Commissioned by James Wannan.

First performance: by James Wannan, Kaylie Melville, Argonaut Ensemble, Jack Symonds at BIFEM: Seeing Double (Ulumbarra Theatre) on 2 Sep 2016

The composer notes the following styles, genres, influences, etc associated with this work:
Japanese literature


Performances of this work

2 Sep 2016: at BIFEM: Seeing Double (Ulumbarra Theatre). Featuring James Wannan, Kaylie Melville, Argonaut Ensemble, Jack Symonds.

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