Sir Harrison Birtwistle: Antiphonies

  • for piano and orchestra
  • 3 3 3 3 - 4 4 3 1 - perc(4), hp(2), str(24 0 8 8 8)
  • Duration: 30’
  • Soloists:
    piano
  • Instrumentation details:
    1st flute
    2nd flute (+2nd picc)
    3rd flute (+1st picc)
    1st oboe
    2nd oboe
    3rd oboe (+c.a)
    1st clarinet in Bb
    2nd clarinet in Bb (+cl(Eb))
    3rd clarinet in Bb (+cl(Eb)
    bass cl(Bb))
    1st bassoon
    2nd bassoon (+2nd cbsn)
    3rd bassoon (+1st cbsn)
    1st horn in F
    2nd horn in F
    3rd horn in F
    4th horn in F
    1st trumpet in C (+picc.tpt)
    2nd trumpet in C (+picc.tpt)
    3rd trumpet in C
    4th trumpet in C
    1st trombone
    2nd trombone
    3rd trombone (+cb.tuba)
    tuba
    1st percussion
    2nd percussion
    3rd percussion
    4th percussion
    1st harp
    2nd harp
    1-4th violin
    5-8th violin
    9-12th violin
    13-16th violin
    17-20th violin
    21-24th violin
    1-4th viola
    5-8th viola
    1-4th violoncello
    5-8th violoncello
    1-4th contrabass
    5-8th contrabass
  • Composer: Sir Harrison Birtwistle
  • Piano reduction: Simon Dale
  • Dedication: to the memory of Howard Hartog
  • Commission: Commissioned by Vincent Meyer for the Philharmonia Orchestra, and Betty Freeman for the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra

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Work introduction

This work is not a “piano concerto” in the way the term is usually understood; it is a struggle between the solo instrument – perhaps a struggle for survival – and the menacing, often demonic powers of the orchestra.

The winds and percussion dominate the sonic character while the strings, except for one short melodic fragment, remain in the background. Slow forte sections unleash the full orchestra, between moments of Impressionistic calm, where the piano part seems like an improvisation, a fantasia - until the struggle resumes …

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The complete perusal score (PDF-preview)

World première

Location:
Paris (FR)
Date:
05.05.1993
Orchestra:
Philharmonia Orchestra
Conductor:
Pierre Boulez
Main soloists:
Joanna MacGregor, pn

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