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World Premiere of Joseph Schwantner's Concerto for Violin and Orchestra at the Detroit Symphony Orchestra

Oct. 01, 2021

Leonard Slatkin led the Detroit Symphony Orchestra and soloist Yevgeny Kutik in the world premiere of Joseph Schwantner's Concerto for Violin and Orchestra on October 15-16 at Orchestra Hall. The composer describes his new work:

"Over the years, I have written a series of concertos including a Percussion Concerto for Christopher Lamb, principal percussionist of the New York Philharmonic, a Piano Concerto for Emanuel Ax, and one for guitarist, Sharon Isbin. Leonard Slatkin conducted the premiere performances of each of these works so I am especially pleased he will also introduce this concerto. His friendship and support of my music extends some four decades when I served as the Saint Louis Symphony’s first composer-in-residence during his early tenure with the orchestra.

The genesis for the Violin Concerto originally began as a short soliloquy for violin and strings commissioned by the Seattle Symphony to commemorate my friend, Gerard Schwarz’s retirement as the orchestra’s musical director.  While composing the piece for Seattle, I had always planned to later expand and re-imagine the music as part of a larger scale work for violin and orchestra. When Gerard also performed the music with his All-Star Orchestra and violinist, Yevgeny Kutik, I was enthralled with Yevgeny’s masterful and nuanced performance and realized I had found “the” soloist to premiere this new expanded work.  Yevgeny Kutik’s brings a dramatic and an emotional arc to his impressive technique and captivating musical personality and that vision remained in my mind’s ear all during the writing of the concerto.

The concerto consists of two extended movements. The first opens with a slow unfolding harmony and a deep repeated orchestral pedal that introduces a darkly expressive melodic line played by cellos in their low register. The brooding character of these musical elements form the basis of the materials developed in this movement.

In the second movement, the violin presents a rapid four-note figure leading to a sudden and dramatic ascending arpeggiated gesture that is picked up by the piano and pitched percussion as a sustained and ringing sonority. This notion of transformation of a musical idea from one context into new and different environments was an endlessly fascinating process of discovery I continually explored throughout both movements of the work."


Listen to Joseph Schwantner's Daydreams...Reverie (2018):

(Daydreams...Reverie/Joseph Schwantner/Yevgeny Kutik, violin)


To learn more about Joseph Schwantner, visit: schott-music.com.

Joseph Schwantner
Concerto for Violin and Orchestra (2019)
Solo Vln; 2(2.pic).2(2.ca).2.2-2.2.1.0-pno(amplified).hp-2perc(I: mar, crot(2 oct), tom-t, timb, bong, lg tam-t; II: vib, xylo, tub bells, b.d).timp-str
30'

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