Universal Edition - Friedrich Cerha – Konzert

Friedrich Cerha

Friedrich Cerha

Year of composition: 2007-2008
Scored for: for percussion and orchestra
Composer: Friedrich Cerha
Soloists: percussion
Instrumentation: 3 2 3 3 - 6 4 4 2 - timp(2), perc(4), hp, cel, sop.sax, str(14 12 10 8 8)
Instrumentation details:
1st flute
2nd flute (+picc)
1st oboe
2nd oboe
1st clarinet in Bb
2nd clarinet in Bb
bass clarinet in Bb
soprano saxophone in Bb
1st bassoon
2nd bassoon
1st horn in F
2nd horn in F
3rd horn in F
4th horn in F
1st trumpet in C
2nd trumpet in C
3rd trumpet in C
4th trumpet in C
1st trombone
2nd trombone
3rd trombone
4th trombone
bass tuba
1st timpani
2nd timpani
1st percussion
2nd percussion
3rd percussion
4th percussion
violin I, 1st, 2nd desk (4)
violin I, 3rd, 4th desk (4)
violin I, 5th–7th desk (6)
violin II (12)
viola (10)
violoncello (8)
contrabass (8)
Duration: 35′
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Audio Excerpt


World Première

Location: Grosses Festspielhaus Salzburg / Austria
Date: 04.10.2009
Orchestra: Mozarteum Orchester Salzburg
Conductor: Ivor Bolton
Main Soloists: Martin Grubinger, perc

Work Introduction

Martin Grubinger was still a young man, although already a well-known percussionist, when he attended a performance of my Chansons with H. K. Gruber and three musicians from the “die reihe” ensemble. He very much liked my differentiated treatment of the percussion; Gruber introduced us and Grubinger asked me if I would write a concerto for him. It took a little time before my musical imagination took hold of that, but then I composed the piece in one go in 2007/2008.

While I was writing it I had not yet heard Grubinger play, and I never tried to contact him while I was working; I did not want to be influenced in any way – yet today I read that I had written the piece as if tailor-made for him and – although he described it as the most difficult thing he had ever played – he made it his own so brilliantly that the description seemed to fit.

Each of the piece’s three movements has its own array of solo instruments, the percussionist changing positions in every one until, at the end, he returns to his initial one. (Contrary to custom, exact pitches are given for all the percussion instruments – even the tom-toms, temple blocks, wood blocks and cowbells).

The first and third sections of the first movement and the end of the piece are marked by eruptive blocks of sound, the drums dominating. The orchestral texture consists of three layers of short pitches of sophisticated rhythmical organisation, based on a magic square in which different sequences of figures total 34. Continuous motion is provided by the soloist and a single horns and tuba line only. The overall effect is of an insistent, drilling character.

The second movement is more lyrical, dominated by resonating instruments –vibraphone, bells, gongs, crotales and bowls. Together, they create an impression of a calm, sonic carpet. Polymetric organisation provides motion within that area; various instruments repeat pitches separated equally but varying in length in the individual voices, yielding differing simultaneous adjacent speeds. I was originally stimulated by observing the slow movements of heavenly bodies and ways of catching up and overtaking which play a part in many areas of life.

I am especially fond of one very calm passage where extremely short events in the percussion break through very quiet string and wind chords. Experiences in the stillness of the nocturnal forest – a snap of a twig, a rustling in the leaves, a tired, faint birdcall – may well have played a role in my imagination.

The third movement has a scherzo-like character, the high, clear sounds of the xylophone, wood blocks and log drums dominating the motion in a frenzied tempo. The classic sound of a solo instrument is often omitted in recent concert literature – but I love the interaction of a solo instruments and its compatriots in the orchestra in my instrumental concerti; in this movement, there even develops a distinct, transient interchange between the solo xylophone and the xylophone player in the orchestra, this “counter-soloist” imitating or continuing the soloist’s phrases.

The final section of the last movement returns – not verbatim, of course – to the eruptive drum events of the first movement, before it closes by repeating the beginning in mirrored form, i.e. cancrizans.

Friedrich Cerha

View the score of the first movement

Study score – Concerto

‘Friedrich Cerha‘s Concerto for percussion and orchestra releases a wealth of timbral fi nesse with incredible momentum leaving the listener spellbound.’ (Salzburger Nachrichten)

  • for percussion and orchestra
  • Edition type: study score
  • Series: Neue Studienpartituren-Reihe
  • UE36509
  • ISBN: 978-3-7024-7251-1
  • ISMN: 979-0-008-08582-6
EUR 44,95

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