Composer: Brett Dean (b. 1961)
Performance date: 24/06/2011
Venue: Bantry Library
Composition Year: 1996
Recording Engineer: Anton Timoney, RTÉ lyric fm
Instrumentation: 2vn, va, vc
Instrumentation Other: va
Brett Dean -
This piece for solo viola was commissioned by the German violist (and my Berlin Philharmonic colleague) Walter Küssner as part of a CD project of works for solo viola planned with a Canadian recording company for the 1998/99 season.
As the title implies, this is music of a private nature, and I must say I found the task of writing a work for a single string instrument strangely akin to writing a personal letter or having an intense discussion with a close friend. The piece opens with a short series of single motives: a minor 3rd, a major 7th and a perfect 4th, all very distant in character, then a more assertive minor 6th – minor 9th motive, followed later by a chain of oscillating harmonics scating across the lower strings. Slowly these separate elements start reacting to one another, and the mood changes, developing from the distant nature of the opening to something more freely rhapsodic and determined, then evolving further through moments of sudden drama, anger, flighty virtuosity or even calm and tenderness.
After exploring the implications of this “conversation” and sinking to an uneasy quietness, the viola´s ensuing whisperings gather momentum, leading to an impassioned climax. The aftermath of this peak leaves an unresolved, gently rocking echo of what has been “discussed” in the guise of the harmonics from the opening.
The name Intimate Decisions comes from a painting by my wife, the Australian painter Heather Betts.
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