for solo cello(1970)
|Commission||Commissioned by cellist Ronald Crutcher|
|Premiere||December 11, 1970 | New Haven, CT (United States of America), Sprague Memorial Hall, Yale University|
Argoru II for cello is the second in a series of solo pieces for various musical instruments. This composition, like all the Argoru pieces, provides a musical platform for sheer virtuosic display. The title, Argoru, comes from the Twi language (spoken in Ghana) and means "to play."
Argoru II is a most unusual work in that it both presents the cello at play (fulfilling its African Twi language word for play) and presents it in a circumstance of intellectual seriousness. Fascinating extended techniques are employed in Argoru II but only to give birth to a solid though wild and unusual composition. Music written for the traditional "mellow cello" is supplanted here by a string of unexpected, largely gestural technical activities laid out in highly contrasted phrasings. These contrasts seem almost theatrical in their contending for domination of the sound space. In Argoru II the composer constructs a world of "strange characters" for whom he seems to have created an original language which they use to scream out, cajole, shout, mumble, and chuckle. Single powerful shots alternate with long phrase ultra-soft scramblings. This is the theatre of sound. The piece at times sounds improvised (although its scoring is precise to the very number of seconds between notes, and even the rates of vibrato are indicated in the score) and at times sounds like behavior patterns of characters on strikingly clear though different missions. The result is a very tightly constructed, compelling work of art. Argoru II was written for the cellist Ronald Crutcher.
– Carman Moore