Double Concerto (2009-11)
For violin, guitar, and chamber orchestra, 27 minutes
Instrumentation: vn gt solo 1111 1110 1 perc pno frets (mand, gt, banjo) vn va vc db
11 May 2012, Great Noise Ensemble, Washington, DC
Andrea Vercoe, vn; Max Zuckerman, gt
The Double Concerto explores the way in which the classical and folk profiles of the violin and guitar intersect and interact. Both instruments have long-established places in these two musical spheres, and classical and folk styles and gestures play a prominent role in the concerto.
The concerto is in three movements. In the first movement, "Funk Rodeo," the soloists enter over a slowly-moving funk-like pattern in the ensemble, after which the guitar plays an original melody evoking the shape-note folk tradition. A faster, driving jazz-like section follows, ramping up the energy of the piece and combing material from both violin and guitar. After an atmospheric section featuring the shape-note tune, the movement dissipates quietly.
"Flamenco Moon," the middle movement, draws strongly on the flamenco tradition, inspired by a trip to Spain which I made during the summer of 2010, and experienced incredible flamenco performances in Seville. Both instruments indulge in florid, expressive vocal lines. Near the movement’s end, another original melody, in American folk style, is heard in the piano: in retrospect, this is the same melody which the violin and guitar have been elaborating.
The finale, "Slapstick Joyride," is fast-moving and upbeat. Two important influences appear here: the violin tries to make repeated entrances on a three-note motive, instantly recognizable to Bluegrass lovers as a common entrance figure for the violin. This three-note figure is taken up by the entire ensemble. A faster finale draws on the influences of my own work creating and performing scores for silent film comedies: a roughhouse, quirky humor is at work in the final part of the piece, which ends with a powerful flourish.
--Andrew Earle Simpson