Ralph Shapey

Performing Ensemble: Violin with Orchestra
Duration: 23:00
Publisher: Theodore Presser Company
Print Status: Rental

Quick Overview

The title "Invocation," according to the dictionary, means the act of calling on God / Saint / Muse. The violin acts as a leader and the orchestra as the followers who partake with the leader in the expression of the Invocation. The orchestra is divided into seven chamber groups. Each group is a self-contained unit with a special role assigned to it.
In the first movement, after the introduction of the basic motivic figure, the solo violin intones the "Invocation Theme". This leads into the first cadenza, out of which comes the main thematic material of the entire concerto. There is a constant play of question and answer between the soloist and the orchestra. Toward the middle of the movement a rhythmic struggle occurs between the solo violin and the percussion. This followed by a gradual return to the original motive of Invocation by the soloist. The orchestra then takes up the Invocation Theme. The soloist joins this final statement performing a cadenza which leads without pause into the second movement ? a recitative.

The Recitative is made up of two contrasting ideas: strict rhythmic elements derived from the first movement?s Invocation Theme and free recitative elements. The soloist and orchestra express themselves freely and yet continually return to and interact with each other. The original theme of Invocation, constantly present in the background, grows ever stronger. This part draws to a close and is followed by an inner section called "With Coquetry;" here a system of variable tempi is employed. The soloist and orchestra vie with each other in a kind of flirtation, each demanding complete independence and autonomy - yet each unable to escape from the other. This section leads back to the "Invocation Theme" and to the conclusion of the second movement.

The third movement begins with an introduction in which the soloist intones the "Invocation Theme" once again. This leads to the main body of the final movement, entitled "With Joy." The soloist begins a quasi-cadenza as the orchestra, in a joyous mood, returns to the earlier variable tempi section. The soloist and orchestra again express their freedom and independence; yet they are always in close contact with one another. The concerto ends with a statement of the "Invocation Theme" followed by the third-movement theme in a final burst of ecstasy.

Additional Information

Composition Date 1959
Orchestration Solo Vln.; 2 2 2 2 - 3 2 2 1; 3Perc. Pno. Gtr. Str.
Premiere Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Esther Glazer, violin, Ralph Shapey, conductor, May 24, 1968, Mandel Hall, University of Chicago, Chicago, IL