• Gunther Schuller
  • Recitative and Rondo (1954)

  • Associated Music Publishers Inc (World)
  • 22+ca.2+bcl.2+cbn/4331/2perc/hp.pf/str
  • piano
  • Violin
  • 11 min

Programme Note

Composer Note:

The work begins with the violin ‘reciting’ alone at some length, marked Lento, quasi cadenza (much in the format—although hardly the style—of Ravel’s Tzigane). Virtually the entire opening cadenza is then repeated, this time with orchestra accompaniment. But the final phrase is now turned into a quiet cadence on the open G string, leading directly (attacca) to the Rondo, marked Allegro. It is a rather strict ‘classical’ six-part rondo, ABACAB, each return of the A increasingly varying the material. Its theme is vigorous, marked marcato, which contrasts with the B and C episodes, the former with light skipping figures in the violins, the latter in a decidedly different vein and tempo. Here the solo violin is in fact cast in an accompanimental role, the C episode beginning with a brief contrapuntal exchange between the first violins and cellos, and leading eventually to the Rondo’s climactic high point (violin soaring above the orchestra).

The return of the B episode is interrupted by a coda which, beginning very calmly, rises in ever-ascending and expanding harmonies to an enormous climax in which the solo violin is all but overpowered by the orchestra. The last measures briefly recapitulate the initial Recitative mood before a gigantic orchestral chord—twelve-tone, but basically C major—provides the final punctuation: exclamation point.

— Gunther Schuller