I’d like to have a copy of this release readily available at all times. I would shove it into the hands of every person I heard complain about “unlistenable” modern music and demand they listen to it.
Amanda Harberg is a thoroughly modern composer who is unafraid of a beautiful melody[…] This lyrical work is astonishingly beautiful.
One cannot fail to be won over by the melodic richness of this captivating score.
Imaginatively structured and orchestrated; an attractive package.
Composed in 2011 for violist Brett Deubner, Amanda Harberg’s Concerto for Viola and Orchestra is in three movements.
The first movement, Allegro Maestoso, is a meditation on flight. The two trumpets that introduce the work evoke a pair of eagles perched high in the trees; then the wind of an orchestral arpeggio carries us to the viola soloist, who introduces the main soaring theme of the movement. A dance-like middle section, full of playful acrobatics and interactions between the viola and the orchestra, comes to a climax as the main soaring melody re-enters, this time in sweeping counterpoint with the secondary dance-like theme. The cadenza develops the opening theme and resolves with the eagles quickly and powerfully racing up into the sky.
Aria- the second movement, is a meditation on the fragility of life. It opens with a viola rising gently out of simple harp arpeggios. The piece flows seamlessly from beginning to end, with one long rising and falling line, which is articulated through the rich sound of the viola, punctuated periodically by gentle orchestral responses. The movement arcs twice, with the viola working its way up to its highest register in pleading gestures, and then falling away to a place of peaceful surrender.
Allegro Spiritoso is about celebration. A steady rhythmic groove propels this movement. Low string pizzicati quietly emerge as the last chord of ‘Aria’ fades away. Snake-like woodwinds have a prominent role in this movement and they enter mysteriously in the orchestral introduction, which gradually builds, heralding the entrance of the viola’s driving and syncopated main theme. A brass chorale evolves from the first four notes of the viola’s initial statement, and then transitions into a lush, expressive secondary theme, set against a backdrop of shimmering strings. The movement is full of energetic dialogue and exchanges between the orchestra and the viola soloist. In the finale the two principal themes are tossed back and forth, finally uniting joyfully in the coda.