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Concerto for English Horn and Strings




Concerto for English Horn and String Orchestra

Instrumentation: English horn and string orchestra
Duration: 16 minutes
Commissionby Network for New Music
Premiere: Elizabeth Starr Masoudnia, English horn, Network for New Music, Jan Krzywicki, conductor; October 18, 2015, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Score and Parts: Presser Rentals and Purchase
Score online: Available for online Preview at Presser


Audio Samples:

I.   Adagio lamentoso

II.  Allegro scherzando

III. Grave lamentoso

IV. Moderato con moto

Program notes:

From my earliest attempts to write for orchestra, the English horn has had a special place in my sound world.  I was often drawn to its penetrating sound that is laced with dark and light sonorities. These qualities imply the dual characters of somber and ethereal, serious and joyful, and life and death.  I also felt string instruments share similar attributes. 

My English horn concerto is in four movements and lasts approximately 16 minutes.  The first movement’s thematic materials permeate throughout the concerto, thus providing a cyclical and unifying relationship between the movements.

The first movement, adagio lamentoso, is slow and elegiac in character.  The mournful English horn melodic lines are supported by deep and dark string sonorities in simple chordal accompaniments.

The second movement, allegro scherzando, is energetic, lighthearted, and at times witty.  The virtuosic solo passages challenge the limits of what is possible on the English horn with fast running notes and large leaps to extreme registers.  

The third movement, grave lamentoso, is a very slow quasi-cadenza for the unaccompanied English horn.  It is a dialogue between two contrasting characters separated in extreme ranges.  The elegiac, mournful part is soft, ethereal and played in the high register, while the dark, serious, and threatening part is in the lowest range of the English horn.

The fourth movement, moderato con moto, is joyful, lighthearted and written in a moderate quasi-dance tempo. There are chases, contentious clashes, and contrasting characters incorporating materials from the earlier movements. After many brilliant passages, the concerto comes to a close by recalling a delicate passage from the end of the second movement.

-Behzad Ranjbaran







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