COMPOSER 1945–2013

Opus 67

Responses, Hosanna, and Fugue (1977)

for String Orchestra and Harp

  • Responses
  • Hosanna
  • Fugue

Philharmonia Orchestra, David Amos, conductor

Duration: 20 min.

Recording: Harmonia Mundi 906012 / Kleos Classics 5119

Premiere: (recording session)

Performance materials available from the publisher.

Responses, Hosanna, and Fugue was written in 1977 and is my only work purely for string orchestra. Who among us is not moved by responsorial singing, in the mosque, the synagogue, a tribal open field, or innumerable denominations of churches? Classical works (by Victoria, among others) have made telling use of the idea; in the first movement of my work, I have applied it to an instrumental setting. Toward this end a string quartet is separated from the main orchestra, the harp freely joining either group, and we hear any number of dialogues and overlaps. For the rest, the quartet players rejoin their colleagues, although little ensembles (such as three violas and harp) may form and dissolve along the way.

The middle movement should sound rather jaunty and is in 5/4 time, with additional wrinkles and irregularities. The modal theme is subjected to several manipulations, some contrapuntally motivated. One variant diverges from the 5-meter and may recall folk tunes. No particular song was consciously used; my sub-conscious pleads nolo contendere.

The Fugue is not especially rigorous after the imitative opening. The main subject recurs often, but much of the material is harmonically (or dramatically) driven. The content is a bit plaintive, but in the end all urgency is relieved, and the close may recall the attitude of the first movement. (Notes by Arnold Rosner)

(The harp is an equal member of the ensemble with the strings. It is not a concertante part.)