Prologue, Arioso and Variants
For solo violin (2004) 19:55
Cornelius Dufallo, violin
Since its original appearance in 1962, this composition has undergone extensive revisions of both concept and content. The current and final version is the result of several performances of the work in its original form and subsequent rewritings prelude to the 2004 release. As a result, the music represents aspects of both design and detail that have changed and those that have remained constant in a period of compositional activity spanning over four decades.
The title refers to elements of presentation common to theater. The drama of the Prologue is a dialogue between two voices or characters, one lyrical and the other somewhat more agitated. These two personalities begin with a conversational exchange, proceed to a conflicting struggle for supremacy, eventually speak simultaneously, and conclude in a truce of mutual respect within which the quieter, more reflective voice seems to have won the day.
Arioso and Variants is a statement and six variants followed by an extended cadenza that finally ushers in a reprise of the original material. The return of the opening music is slightly altered to suggest a dramatic denouement and brings the composition to a quiet close suggestive of the final cadence of the Prologue.
The Arioso contains both recitative and lyrical moments that imply expository theatrical text. Variant I is immediately aggressive and energetic. Variant II, quasi una valzer, is liltingly dance-like. Variant III, grazioso, is brief and gentle throughout. Variant IV, marked feroce returns to the spirit of the first variant. Although the fifth variant begins sweetly, dolce, the gentle persona of this section is increasingly interrupted with nervous explosions of assertive energy. The misterioso music of Variant VI features a repeated occurrence of passages with sul ponticello bowing. These sections are interrupted by increasingly longer and more contrasting music that eventually leads directly into the virtuoso abandon of the extended cadenza. Music that repeatedly focuses on the open A string as a point of reference brings the cadenza to conclusion and is followed by the above mentioned return of the opening Arioso material.
Copyright © 2008 Donald Bohlen.
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