concerto for violin and chamber ensemblesolo violin, 2 clarinets (doubling hookah sax), 2 percussion, 2 cellos, 2 double basses, tape part (2014)
|Commission||Commissioned by a grant from the TenFourteen LLC, an arm of the Jebediah Foundation|
|Premiere||February 22, 2015; Cal Performances, Hertz Hall, UC Berkeley, Berkeley, CA; San Francisco Contemporary Music Players • Gabby Diaz, violin solo • Steven Schick, conductor|
|Technical requirements||Electronic playback of audio file is necessary.|
See embedded videos below for instructions on "hookah sax" assemblage and techniques, as well as the solo violin extended techniques.
Demonstration of "hookah sax" techniques
Demonstration of violin techniques p. 1
Demonstration of violin techniques p. 2
Ueno’s chamber concerto for violin and small ensemble Zetsu, composed for his longtime colleague Gabriela Diaz and for the San Francisco Contemporary Music Players (with which the composer has worked closely in recent years), continues his interest in what he calls “person-specific” works. These draw on the performance characteristics of particular performers, resulting in music rooted inextricably in personal relationships. Zetsu takes its title from a 2003 art ceramic by the Japanese sculptor Nishida Jun (1977-2005), now in the collection of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. TenFourteen Project commissioner Rob Amory alerted Ueno to this piece, in which Nishida Jun createad a work of protean form, combining careful structure the chaotically amorphous results of experimental material and kiln techniques. The beautiful, enigmatic resulting pieces analogize processes of the formation of the earth itself. Nishida Jun’s willingness to push traditional ceramics beyond what could be considered failure was not only artistically but physically dangerous. At age twenty-eight, two years after the creation of Zetsu No. 8, he was killed in a kiln explosion while working with traditional potters on Bali.
In addition to a solo violin part that celebrates Diaz’s relationship to the violin—her extensive experience as a performer of new music as well as of standard repertoire—Zetsu generalizes the situation-specific idea with the creation of new instruments: percussion idiophones using microtonal tunings unique to the harmonic spectra of the piece, and the “hookah sax,” played via a tube inserted in its bell. Knowing his performers, Ueno taps into their senses of humor as well as of adventure. Formally, Zetsu pushes and pulls gestures and textures to extremes: the slowly evolving shimmer in the solo violin of the opening gives way to discrete, rhythmically clarified polyphony for the ensemble. The soloist returns with an intricate part ranging widely in articulation and tessitura, microtonal contours lending an organic, improvised, very human intensity.
- Robert Kirzinger