In the sense that every work in a standard genre is about the history of that genre, my Violin Concerto is in dialogue with a form that itself concerns the limitless dramatic potential of discourse between an individual and a crowd.
In addition, a specifically theatrical starting point in Samuel Beckett’s 100th anniversary year was an episode in Waiting for Godot, where the character of Lucky, ominously silent till that point in the play, confounds the audience with a torrent of gibberish.
Far from being mute (or muted), my soloist is almost constantly in action. Yet the cadenza which occurs towards the end of this one-movement work gathers together in a continuous statement the kind of fast passage work that up to that point had been disjointed, battered and unstable, and captures (I hope) an echo of Beckett’s unforgettable effect.
Channelling this rhetoric – and with it a current of flotsam and jetsam from the violin repertoire – is a pattern of purely musical tension between flat keys and sharper tonalities. The opening is in a sweet yet swiftly curdled B flat major. Subsequent juxtapositions of individual against ensemble are no less extreme than the range of idioms embraced, and though the jarring tonalities and mechanical pizzicato focus around a complex modality centred on the pitch of E, the music remains manic and driven till the violin’s last utterance.
The expertise of tonight’s soloist Keisuke Okazaki was also an important inspiration. For his technical advice during the composition of the piece I am especially grateful, and to him the concerto is respectfully dedicated.
First performed by BCMG and Keisuke Okazaki conducted by Franck Ollu on 9 May 2006 at CBSO Centre, Birmingham.
Morgan Hayes’ Violin Concerto is available on the NMC disc of the same name, see the link on the right for more details.