About this Recording
8.573204 - LANCINO, T.: Violin Concerto / Prelude and Death of Virgil (Faust, Monti, Luxembourg Philharmonic, Orchestre National de France, Tamayo, Schwarz)
English  French 

Thierry Lancino (b. 1954)
Violin Concerto • Prelude and Death of Virgil


Violin Concerto (2005)

I began writing the Violin Concerto in September 2004 and completed it in June 2005. The entire process of composition took place at night—standard practice for me.

The project took several years to develop and mature and, although none of the material from my early sketches remains in the final version, this long gestation period explains the speed with which I eventually composed the concerto. It was clear from the beginning that my choice of a generic title was a statement of intent. I had no plan to write any kind of programmatic music, or to tell a story, or even to conjure up any specific feelings. All I wanted was to express my own music, my inner experience, and to present it as an abstract construction.

Wholeheartedly embracing concerto form, I made it my own, using it as the ideal structure within which to indulge all sorts of extravagant impulses. The thought of a little piece of wood (in reality, a 1704 Stradivarius), played by Isabelle Faust, confronting a gigantic machine (the full orchestra) was extremely stimulating and fired up my imagination. Writing for such disparate forces was a real challenge. All along, I had it in mind that “con-certo” comes from “certare”, meaning to fight fiercely, or do battle. But the process of composition involved an even fiercer confrontation: the material and I found ourselves in violent opposition to one another. Throughout the work I expose it, twist it, hit it, shake, contradict, exasperate and flip it, burst, cherish and order it, render it volatile, burn, freeze, hammer and sing it…

Having followed my own guiding thread, I now ask listeners to follow me on a journey full of twists and turns and consisting of three stages of unequal length (16min – 12min – 7min):

Movement I: Modéré – Accéléré/Glissé – (Cadenza) – Choral – Accéléré
Movement II: Lent (Attacca)
Movement III: Vif – Fugato

The Violin Concerto was commissioned by Musique Nouvelle en Liberté for Isabelle Faust and the Orchestre Philharmonique du Luxembourg. Arturo Tamayo conducted the première in 2005 at the Théâtre du Châtelet, Paris. The work is dedicated to Isabelle Faust.

Prelude and Death of Virgil (2000)

Within western culture, Virgil stands as an artist elevated to mythical stature. Little is known about his life, however, and successive generations have projected their own ideal of artistic creation on to his name. When he died, this daunting genius left behind an unfinished masterpiece, the Aeneid, which he had apparently wanted destroyed, as he was unhappy with its faults and imperfections—a subject taken up in Hermann Broch’s novel The Death of Virgil, in which the writer is dissuaded from burning his manuscript by the emperor Augustus.

This scene of historical impact—the death of the monumental poet—inspired my librettist and me to begin work on an operatic project of vast dimensions. The opera was never completed, but has given rise to various vocal and orchestral pieces, including Prelude and Death of Virgil, for baritone and orchestra.

I added the following epigraph to the score: “This ends like a star whose light I have not succeeded in extinguishing, but which I have pushed so far away that I can no longer see it, ‘…not yet and yet already…’ A star I know is still shining there, but whose light no longer reaches me. It is a fine dissonance that remains suspended and whose gradual extinction occurs at a rhythm decided by Time. It is vibrating, but I can no longer feel it; I only know it is still there, and that it will fade away into the consonant radiance of oblivion.”

Prelude and Death of Virgil, for baritone and orchestra, was premièred by Matteo di Monti and the Orchestre National de France, conducted by Gerard Schwarz, at Radio France’s Olivier Messiaen Hall in Paris in December 2000. It was commissioned by the Radio France Présences Festival. The work is dedicated to my father.

Thierry Lancino

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