a2 for violin and cello Thomas Simaku

a2  for violin and cello cover
10 mins

Solos, Duos & Trios Duos

1 Violin, 1 Violoncello

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violin and cello

Programme note

Dedicated to Peter Sheppard Skaerved and Neil Heyde.

This music was composed during my DAAD residency in Berlin in October - November 2007. If I were to describe it in one sentence, I would say that it is based on the idea of 'two things seen/heard as one'. "a2 (a due) is a well-known term to musicians; it is often found in orchestral scores indicating a given passage that is to be played by two instruments of the same family. Although violin and cello could well be regarded as 'first cousins' of the string family, the literal implementation of the term a2 as a 'compositional strategy' would have been too much (!) for a piece of chamber music consisting of no more than two players. Not surprisingly, this never happens in this work; in fact, the opposite is true: regardless of how it appears on paper (i.e. on one or two staves), the music for each instrument is constantly based on two layers. "This musical 'interpretation' of the title gives an indication as to how the textural format of the piece operates. However, this was by no means the only thought that 'preoccupied' my mind whilst composing this music. Berlin made a profound impression on me. The remnants of the wall in Bernauer Strasse and the cobbled two-stone line tracing the wall across where it once stood - a clear reminder of what not so long ago there were two different worlds in one city - provoked a strikingly dramatic effect. Border, death-strip, killing, and escape to freedom had a particularly evocative resonance, especially of the time when I lived for three years in a remote town in Southern Albania right at the border with Greece. There, there was a nameless road whose destination the authorities did not want you to know, but the locals called it the 'death-road'. "In no way programmatic, in this context, the extra-musical dimension of the principal idea is very much part of the piece. Here, the musical and extra-musical interpretations cannot easily be separated, for they are two parts of the same thing: a2. "As if to add another dimension to this idea, there are two versions of this piece: for viola & cello and violin & cello. The first version was premièred by Garth Knox and Rohan de Saram at the 2008 Intrasonus Festival in Venice.

© Thomas Simaku

Garth Knox and Rohan de Saram at the 2008 Intrasonus Festival in Venice.
  • 28 Sep 2012 |

    Pharos International Festival, Nicosia, Cyprus


    El Perro Andaluz

  • 20 Sep 2012 |

    Wechselbad Theater, Dresden


    El Perro Andaluz members Emily Yabe (violin), Jakob Andert (cello) 

  • 9 May 2012 | 7:30pm |

    York Spring Festival of New Music, Sir Jack Lyons Concert Hall


    El Perro Andaluz Ensemble

  • 16 Sep 2011 |

    3rd International Contemporary Music Festival, Nicosia, Cyprus


    Moscow Contemporary Music Ensemble

  • 20 Oct 2009 | 11:00pm |

    Sir Jack Lyons Concert Hall, University of York


    Peter Sheppard Skaerved (violin) Neil Heyde (cello)

  • 26 Aug 2009 | 11:00pm |

    International Contemporary Music Festival, Nicosia, Cyprus


    Peter Sheppard Skaerved (violin), Bridget Macrae (cello)

  • 22 Mar 2009 | 2:30pm |

    Wilton's Music Hall, London


    Peter Sheppard Skaerved (violin), Neil Heyde (cello)