composer

Roukens, Joey

Joey Roukens (b. 1982) is an Amsterdam-based composer of contemporary classical music. He studied classical composition at Codarts University of the Arts and psychology at Leiden University. Since graduating in ...

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composition

In Unison : Concerto for two pianos and orchestra / Joey Roukens

Publisher's number: 16199
Genre: Orchestra
Subgenre: Piano and orchestra
Scoring: 2pf-solo picc 2fl 3ob 2cl cl-b 2fg cfg 4h 3tpt 3trb timp 3perc cel str
Remarks: Geschreven in opdracht van de NTR ZaterdagMatinee voor de gebroeders Jussen als solisten.
Duration: 28'00"
Year of composition: 2017
Status: fully digitized (real-time delivery)

Description:
Before I started composing I listened to the CDs of the Jussen brothers and was struck not only by the sparkling brilliance of their playing, but also by the fact that they sounded together so perfectly as a duo. Gradually the idea arose to write a double concerto in which the two soloists would not so much sound as two separate soloists, but as it were as one superpianist on one superpiano, which means that there are many unison passages (both pianos playing exactly the same notes). In any case, the unison is an element that appears a lot in my work, perhaps a legacy of the “Dutch music tradition”. My plan was to pursue the classic setup in three parts (fast-slow-fast). While I was working on the piece I was in a period when I played through many Italian baroque toccatas myself on the piano and something of that pianisticity can probably be heard in the pianisticity in this piece.

Perhaps most striking in part I Neon Toccata, an energetic, virtuoso toccata full of whimsical twists and rousing rhythms. It contains harmonies that are reminiscent of a certain kind of pop music that I associate with neon colors: bright, screamy, catchy. At the same time, I keep changing the harmonies in this part in a way that you will never find in pop music.

The slow second movement (What If) is set up in an A-B-A form: the A sections are slow, lyrical and mostly serene; the middle section is faster and builds to a more dissonant, violent climax. Characteristic of this movement are the continuous pulses of repeating notes: in the A sections this is a very irregular kind of pulsation, but in the middle section the pulses become more regular. When the A section returns after the climactic violence, the music has an almost sacred feel, like a dreamed kind of Early Music. The movement ends very ethereally, in the very highest register of the pianos.

Movement III (Dark Ride) is a dark mad ride at a dangerously high pace. It is a raw, chromatic and rhythmic movement that, despite the predominantly tonal harmonies, often has a sharp, dissonant edge. If you listen carefully, you can still hear something of the originally planned rondo form. It contains insanely fast notes, grotesque outbursts and just before the end a wild groovy passage in which the two pianos are left with only timpani.

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