• David Blake
  • Scherzi e Intermezzi (1984)

  • Novello & Co Ltd (World)

Commissioned by the Bedfordshire Symphony Orchestra

  • 3(pic).2+ca.3(Ebcl).34331timp.3percstr
  • 13 min

Programme Note

This work, commissioned by the Bedfordshire Symphony Orchestra with funds provided by the EAA was completed in May 1984.

After a short introduction presenting melodic and rhythmic elements that will be heard again in the Scherzi, a solo clarinet introduces the Theme, which will return in many guises, particularly in the Intermezzi. Scherzo I follows, with busy, chattering figuration for Woodwind and Horns - and containing a brief pizzicato passage for strings which will also re-appear later in extended or varied form. Intermezzo No. I is mainly for strings in gentle and lyrical mood, containing a re-appearance of the theme more liberally harmonised.

Scherzo II is an extended variation of the first Scherzo; this time with the Brass and Percussion taking a leading role.

Intermezzo II uses lyrical material from the first Intermezzo but this time played by pizzicato strings. The solo Oboe recalls the theme in a varied shape.

Scherzo III combines elements of the two preceding Scherzi using all sections of the orchestra and fusing the varied rhythmic patterns used separately in the earlier sections. It reaches a critical moment with a striking and violent discord - out of which grows Intermezzo III.

After despairing shrieks from Eb Clarinet and Piccolo above solemn strokes on the Gong, there grows from the depths of the orchestra the central, emotional heart of the work, rising to a tense climax, which breaks suddenly into Scherzo IV - a greatly extended variation using the preceding Scherzi material but including also a synthesis of the main material from the Intermezzi now played by the Brass. The section begins to dissolve, but is interrupted by a vigorous and violent coda. The work ends quietly however with a questioning solo Cello falling through gently repeated pizzicato chords of Bb.

The work is played without a break and as can be seen is structured in constant variation form. It contains wide contrasts of dynamic, rhythmic and atmospheric content - from violence to tenderness; repose to hectic activity; gentle quietness to fierce loudness.

© Michael Rose