Partita

for string octet

 

Composition Date: 2019

Information:

 

Commissioned by the Academy of St Martin in the Fields. It is one of two works written during Sally's residency with the Academy; the other being  ‘Hover’ for chamber orchestra.

 

The world premiere was given by the Academy of St Martin in the Fields Chamber Ensemble, at the River Centre for the Performing Arts in Columbus, Georgia, USA, on 4th October 2019.

 

 

Programme Note:

 

for the Academy of St Martin in the Fields, and dedicated to PFT

 

PARTITA

for string octet

2019

 

I. Prelude

II. Fugue

III. Chaconne



In March 2019 I was a juror at the Carl Nielsen Violin Competition. I heard many superb performances of the Bach solo sonatas and partitas, and for 10 days, my head was filled with Bach.

 

Felix Mendelssohn was strongly influenced by Bach and Handel, and this is evident in his brilliant octet. I have taken the idea of a partita, which is traditionally a suite for a solo instrument. A string octet could be seen as a single entity – almost like a bowed keyboard – as well as being an ensemble of soloists.

 

The Prelude takes a fragment from the prelude to Bach’s D minor Sonata for solo violin, and weaves it into an ostinato, initially on 1st viola. This begins to fragment and break apart, reaching a climax which converges onto a single note.

 

The Fugue is based on the Handel quote (from the Messiah) which forms a fugato in the last movement of Mendelssohn’s Octet. I have used it as a slow theme. The fugue is in 8 parts.

 

The Chaconne takes a Mendelssohn theme, which is heavily disguised. After a fanfare-like opening, stated on lower strings, there are eight chaconne variations, each featuring a different member of the octet. The solos range from wistful to playful – the last soloist being the first viola, with an attempt to reveal the identity of the hidden theme.

 

Partita was commissioned by the Academy of St Martin in the Fields. It is one of two works written during my residency with the Academy; the other being  ‘Hover’ for chamber orchestra.

 

It is dedicated with love to my husband, Peter Thomson, and also inspired by the unique, virtuosic dynamic of these musicians, whose playing I know so well.

 

The world premiere was given by the Academy of St Martin in the Fields Chamber Ensemble, at the River Centre for the Performing Arts in Columbus, Georgia, USA, on 4th October 2019.

Sally Beamish 2019

 

 

Buy/Hire from Edition Peters

 

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