Christopher Theofanidis

Press Kit

Summer Verses (2009) for violin and 'cello

I. very, very happy
II. curious
III. lyric, wistful
IV. Robert
V. noble, resolute

Duration: 20 minutes
FIRST PERFORMANCE: James Ehnes, violin, Robert DeMaine, ‘cello; Seattle, Washington/ July 2009

James Ehnes, violin; Robert DeMaine, ‘cello

Given the prominence of both the violin and ‘cello throughout history, the actual duo repertory is remarkably small.  I think part of the reason for that is that both instruments have such a strong association as solo instruments, so putting them together might seem more like 'the battle of the wills' than collaborative chamber music.   I tried to take certain aspects of this soloistic capacity, particularly in the form of virtuosity, and weave them into the piece, but at other times, I thought of the players more as coming together for the common cause of longer melodic lines, or for creating an almost Baroque sense of harmony and timbre to try to give balance to the soloistic tendencies.

The first movement is based on double notes played at a blazing pace.  The single running line is passed between the two instruments with alternating punctuation and support.

The second movement is all pizzicato (plucked, without a bow).  This is also an extremely fast movement with mercurial pauses and phrasing.

The third movement uses many double-stops (playing two notes at once on the same string instrument) to create a thicker sense of harmony.  Although this movement moves quite deliberately, there are many cross-rhythms between the two parts that hopefully create a sense of internal flow.

The fourth movement, entitled "Robert", comes from particular details of the silly side of my friendship with Robert DeMaine- from musical quotes of things that we both know well, to certain behavioral tendencies that are better left unmentioned.

The final movement is earnest with a hopeful outlook, the tenor of which is inspired by the personal plight of a dear friend of mine, who is dealing with some very serious health issues.

The summer is filled with light and energy, though in my case this year, there are some more weighty things which are important and pressing; both of these strains make their way into my piece, Summer Verses.

—Christopher Theofanidis