• Thea Musgrave
  • Chamber Concerto No. 3 (1966)

  • Chester Music Ltd (World)

Commissioned by the Anglo-Austrian Music Society for the Melos Ensemble

Dedicated to Nadia Boulanger for her 80th birthday

  • cl.bn/hn/2vn.va.vc.db
  • 24 min

Programme Note

Chamber Concerto No 3, commissioned by the Anglo-Austrian Music Society was written in the last six months of 1966. It is dedicated to Nadia Boulanger for her 80th birthday - 16 September 1967.

The work is conceived as a virtuosic piece and includes sections or cadenzas where different players take a leading role, momentarily dominating and directing the others. There are five movements played without a break, framed by a very short ‘Dedicatio’ and ‘Envoi’.

The ‘Dedicato’ is a simple presentation of short melodic motives, which spell out the names of the composers of both first and second Viennese Schools. As in the Berg’s Chamber Concerto, just those initials which correspond to a musical note are used, taking account of the fact that H (in German notation) is B-natural, and S or Es is E-flat: HAyDN: mozART: SCHuBErt: ArnolD: SCHönBErG: Anton wEBErn: AlBAn BErG.

The first movement consists of two strongly contrasted ideas which interact- a vigorous, dissonant allegro for strings, and an andante delamando for wind. A cadenza for the first violin based on the HAyDn-mozArt motive forms a transition to the second movement – a scherzo fantastico. Here the clarinet becomes more and more dominating and the movement culminates in a wild cadenza for clarinet based on the BEEtHovEn motive.

The central slow movement starts very quietly on a soft, low pitched chord. Gradually the SCHubErt and ArnolD SCHönBErG motives emerge leading to a cadenza for horn and viola. After a climax, the movement ends quietly as it began.

The bassoon and double bass dominate the fourth movement - a kind of grotesque scherzo, the double bass playing the Anton WEBErn motif. The cello joins in with a slow, expressive theme and the movement grows to a climax. At the end the second violin crowns the texture the AlBan BErG motif in a high register

The final movement is a multiple cadenza. It consists almost entirely of previously heard material but now in complex new juxtapositions. Piercing through the texture, each instrument reiterates the melodic motif that has been associated with it. In the very short ‘Envoi’ the soft, low pitched chord form the slow movement returns, and over it the cello, in pizzicato notes, spells out the composer’s name: tHEA muSGrAvE.

Thea Musgrave