Viola Concerto: Do Not Go Gentle

Richard Wernick

Performing Ensemble: Viola with Orchestra
Duration: 20:00
Publisher: Theodore Presser Company
Print Status: Rental

Quick Overview

The Concerto is cast in two movements, contrasting in certain respects, similar in other. The viola, of course, is the featured soloist, but not quite in the way one would expect. The solo part is difficult but not virtuosic in the sense that it always draws attention to itself or the violists?s ability to negotiate the thornier passages. The orchestra itself is divided into three solo groups of strings, winds and brass set off against both the solo viola as well as the percussion, harp and remaining strings. In a sense the piece is closer in spirit to the baroque concerto grosso than to the classical concerto with its quasi-dramatic juxtapositions.

The subtitles of the Concerto as well as the individual movements ("Do not go gentle..."; "into that good night") are from the well-known poem of Dylan Thomas. In the Thomas poem the verses refer to blindness; in the case of the Concerto to a darkness that is considerably deeper. Apart from the brief allusion to the children's song "This Old Man," which appears at the very end of the piece, there are no literary or programmatic connotations and yet the music is not entirely abstract either. Music does have the capacity to communicate things that are felt profoundly and in a manner that is neither obvious nor literal. Music can and does function on any number of levels, each of which is equally valid. My hope is that the Viola Concerto will be understood for what it is: a concert piece for viola and orchestra that reveals its own sense of logic and musical narrative. But I expect that those who know the genesis of the work might respond in a somewhat different fashion.

The Viola Concerto was written for Walter Trampler and Leon Botstein on commission from the ANL Foundation. It was composed in the fall and early winter of 1986. Messrs. Trampler and Botstein presented the world premiere performances at Bard and Vassar colleges on May 8 and 9, 1987, with the Hudson Valley Philharmonic Chamber Orchestra.

Additional Information

Commission Commissioned by the ANL Foundation for Leon Botstein, Walter Trampler and the Hudson Valley Philharmonic.
Composition Date 1986
Orchestration Solo Vla.; String Quintet; 1 1 1 1 - 2 2 1 1; Timp. Perc. Hp. Str.
Premiere May 8th, 1987. Walter Trampler, Viola, Hudson Valley Philharmonic, conducted by Leon Botstein.


I. "Do not go gentle..."
II. "...into that good night..."

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