Tu Sospiri? - chamber orchestra - 2009/10

dur. 13-14mins

This work was commissioned by Daniel Raiskin and the Staatsorchester Rheinische Philharmonie and premièred in Koblenz in April 2012 (two well-received performances). A connection with "my Mozart" was requested, but I had no wish to write a "Mozartiana". This piece uses two points of departure: one biographical, the other musical.

Mozart's conjectured relationship with, or at least feelings towards, Nancy Storace, his first Susanna, had its farewell flowering in the concert aria Ch'io mi scordi di te K.505 (a tellingly chosen text?).

This conjectured meeting of souls provided an emotional stimulus for the piece, its lyrics lending the title. Parting, loss and separation are often themes in my work.

A fragment from the "trials" scene of Die Zauberflöte provided the simple ideas of a "turn" and a scale, revealed as the source in the centre of the piece, appropriately on a solo flute. The turn is an ornament already well embedded into my own musical semantics.

Though I love the many faces of Mozart, chief among them is his "instrumental colourism", and that of him as "first of the romantics" (D minor and C minor Piano Concerti, Requiem, Don Giovanni, Andantino from Posthorn Serenade, slow movement of the Clarinet Concerto etc.). These are reflected in my approach to this commission.

Tu Sospiri? is a thirteen minute piece including somewhat eclectically spacious warmth and intense emotion, elements of dance, vibrancy, a certain brooding even. It juxtaposes classical transparency of scoring and readily grasped material, with a richer romantic rhetoric. I intended to make chamber orchestra forces sound "large". The piece has a concertante/concerto for orchestra feel with solos for everyone, especially flute, violin and horn - a "players' piece".

The vibrant tutti opening, a cri de coeur strongly centred on the turn, gives way to an extended, predominantly darker and turbulent main section. In time this dissipates into a haven of sensual tranquility, with extended violin, horn and finally (magic!) flute solos. A light, dance-like reawakening proceeds towards a somewhat martial climax (...the Commandatore?), emerging triumphant in a glowing, ecstatic restatement of the opening idea. The music dissolves into a brief recapitulation of the central slow "dream" before ending enigmatically - like the candle snuffed out, or the closing of the story book.

Scoring: 2 Flutes (one doubles piccolo), 2 Oboes, 2 Clarinets, 2 Bassoons, 2 Horns, 2 Trumpets, Timpani, Strings

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