Commissioend by the Leeds Festival of Music

In memory of Michael Vyner

  • vn + 2(II:pic).2.2.2/
  • Violin
  • 22 min

Programme Note

My Violin Concerto was commissioned by Michael Vyner, to whose memory it is dedicated, for the 1990 Leeds Festival. It was written during 1989.

It is scored for a symphony orchestra which engages in a conflict with the solo violin for much of the time. There are three linked movements, the first of which - an allegro - begins with the orchestra playing staccato chords which describe a circle of fifths in interlocking tritones. These chords, spread over a much longer time span - will become the main punctuation points of the last movement.

The violin enters after this orchestra tutti describing and ascending line in which intervals expand upwards. As the movement proceeds, the violin takes up the more aggressive music of the orchestra and the second part of the movement is a fast dance. There is a question and answer relationship between soloist and orchestra here, rather than real conflict. The music eventually descends to begin the slow movement; the violin develops its expanding line in a much more cantabile manner, while the orchestra plays a supportive role. Towards the close, it reasserts itself interrupting the violin's increasingly impassioned argument. For a moment, the violin seems to have regained some calm, accompanied by the bells, but this is short-lived. Underneath, the orchestra enters with its initial interlocked tritones and dramatic conflict ensues. This culminates in two tuttis very close to one another, after which, the violin makes a final statement of its ascending melody. The orchestra's 'closed' cycle ends when the crotales and vibraphones reach a ringing E octave, the violin continuing to play in a dance-like manner, ascending continually and closing the work on its own.

© Robert Saxton, January 199


Saxton: Violin Concerto (movt I)
Saxton: Violin Concerto (movt II)
Saxton: Violin Concerto (movt III)


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