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Implacable Gifts : Concerto for two pianos and orchestra

by Carl Vine (2018)

Implacable Gifts


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Implacable Gifts : concerto for two pianos and orchestra / Carl Vine.

Library shelf no. Q 784.24/VIN 1 [Available for loan]

Work Overview

The principle of a concerto with a single soloist is well understood: the soloist is a hero assisted, and sometimes challenged, by the orchestra. But what is the rationale for two heroes? Are they at war, competing, collaborating, or just chatting? While wondering how to reconcile these options, I was assailed by a stream of musical ideas perfect for two pianos with accompaniment, but which didn't conform to a wider architectural scheme.

These ideas were so persistent that they simply demanded inclusion, leaving me to find a binding principle later on. This situation brought to mind The Arrival of Implacable Gifts, a 1985 painting by Australian surrealist James Gleeson (1915-2008) in which disparate dazzling images are woven into a roiling sea of intrigue. Gleeson spoke, about this painting, of gifts dropping from the sky, things that we longed for but which on arrival became unavoidable, and not always completely welcome.

The first movement, Irresistible Urges, is a collection of the original striking sonic images that were the inescapable, implacable gifts that engendered the composition. The middle two movements emerged with distinctly narrative characteristics, and so became Folk Story and Fairytale, the latter becoming increasingly fanciful. Music contains neither verbs nor nouns, so I can't tell exactly what the stories are, and invite the listener to imagine their own. The final movement returns to the ineluctable and inexorable, motifs that lead us to the unpreventable end of the music.

Work Details

Year: 2018

Instrumentation: 2 solo pianos, piccolo, flute, oboe, cor anglais, clarinet in Bb, bass clarinet in Bb, bassoon, contrabassoon, 4 horns in F, 2 trumpets in C, 2 tenor trombones, bass trombone, tuba, timpani, percussion (2 players), harp, strings.

Duration: 24 min.

Difficulty: Advanced

Contents note: i. Irresistible Urges -- ii. Folk Story -- iii. Fairytale -- iv. Inevitable Conclusion.

Commission note: Commissioned by Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra, Geoff Stearn for performance by West Australian Symphony Orchestra.

First performance: by Kathryn Stott, Piers Lane, West Australian Symphony Orchestra, Rory Macdonald at WASO: Ravel and Vine (Perth Concert Hall) on 11 May 2018

Awards & Prizes

Year Award Placing Awarded for/to
2019 Art Music Awards: Work of the Year: Orchestral Winner Carl Vine


Resonate article: 2019 Art Music Awards - what the judges said by Australian Music Centre


Performances of this work

19 May 2018: at Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra: Vine & Beethoven (Federation Concert Hall, Hobart). Featuring Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra, Kathryn Stott, Piers Lane, Rory Macdonald.

12 May 18: Perth Concert Hall, WA. Featuring Rory Macdonald, West Australian Symphony Orchestra, Kathryn Stott, Piers Lane.

11 May 2018: at WASO: Ravel and Vine (Perth Concert Hall). Featuring Kathryn Stott, Piers Lane, West Australian Symphony Orchestra, Rory Macdonald.

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