• Poul Ruders
  • Bratschkoncert (1994)
    (Viola Concerto)

  • Edition Wilhelm Hansen Copenhagen (World)
  • Viola
  • 28 min

Programme Note

The concerto for viola and orchestra was commissioned by Léonie Sonning’s Music Foundation and the Danish National Radio Symphony Orchestra for Juri Bashmet, the 1995 recipient of the prestigious ‘Sonning Price’, an honour previously bestowed upon international ‘mega-stars’, such as Igor Stravinsky, Leonard Bernstein and Heinz Holliger, to name but a few. Mr. Bashmet and the DNRS premiered the concerto under the baton of Ulf Schirmer, April 1995 in Copenhagen.

The piece itself is in reality one melodic line only one tune constantly regenerating itself by means of a newly ‘updated’ change-ringing technique, which I call ‘minimorphoses’; the melodic line as such evolves in a patiently rising arch of 4 independent, simultaneous layers employing the ancient virtues of Augmentation and Diminution (broadening/shortening of the rhythmic patterns). The concerto is in one movement, a musical tribute to serenity and patience, rare qualities in a day and age, where the mind is never allowed to rest, being constantly bombarded by short-lived flashy ‘zaps’: it’s a piece devoted to the right and ability of music to stay aloof, maintaining its emotional integrity, detached from the tyranny of fashion and trend.

The Viola Concerto was composed right on the heels of Anima, my second cello concerto, written for Heinrich Schiff, a piece strongly related to the Viola Concerto, spiritually and technically. The Voiola Concerto is broader in scope, though, and the score calls for larger forces; in both cases, however, there’s no use of neither percussion- nor keyboard instruments. Whereas Anima displays no extrovert, brilliant passages in the solo-part, the Viola Concerto features two exuberant solo-cadenzas; the second and longer leads up to the final orchestral interlude, preceding a hushed coda which brings the piece to a halt on a minor chord in the first inversion, a hidden ‘trade-mark’ of mine to be found in virtually every piece since my first violin concerto from 1981.

The Viola Concerto and Anima make the two first ‘instalments’ of a concerto trilogy, the remaining being a piano concerto to be premiered in October by Rolf Hind and the London Philharmonic Orchestra.

- Poul Ruders



Score preview