Henkemans, Hans

Hans Henkemans, one of the leading Dutch pianists and composers of the 20th century, wrote orchestral, vocal and chamber music, and an opera. For twenty-five years he performed as a ...

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Concert voor altviool en orkest / Hans Henkemans

Publisher: Amsterdam: Donemus, cop. 1954
Publisher's number: 06465
Genre: Orchestra
Subgenre: Viola and Orchestra
Instruments: 3343 4331 timp perc xyl(vibr) cel hp str vla-solo
Remarks: Jaar van comp.: 1954. - Tijdsduur: 22'
Duration: 22'00"
Year of composition: 1954
Status: fully digitized (real-time delivery)

Allegro tumultuoso
Andante, mesto
Allegro agitato
Program note (English): Although a precise description of a composition may serve as a kind of literary score for the concert-goer, it runs the risk of distracting from the emotional value of the work. For this reason I intend to cut down my comments to a minimum on my Concerto for viola and orchestra.
For example, I consider the fact that the first movement has a rather unusual form (a fusion of sonata and rondo form) as subsidiary to the emotional content which I have tried to give to this movement. Not that we find here, or anywhere else in this composition, either a "programme" or any conscious extra-musical emotion. Indeed the contrary is true, for it seems to me that very little has come between the actual musical impulse and the written result. Admittedly, I am aware that, for example, a certain structure can be an important factor in determining the emotional content of a work, but in this composition the structure is not so much the result of conscious construction as of something which arose largely without intellectual effort and the unusual aspects were really "discovered" afterwards.
The melodic content of the first movement -Allegro tumultuoso- clearly shows three themes which are of equal importance in their constructive qualities. The first is quick and easily recognized by the leap of a fifth at the beginning, the second is very quick, and the third is considerably slower. The real difference lies in the emotional characters of the themes. All three themes are largely melodic and rely little on motifs. The first is somewhat ominous, the second forceful, and the third lyrical yet somehow filled with unrest.
The construction of the second movement is very simple although rather unusual. It is a binary lied-form in which the A and B sections are divided by a short orchestral interlude. The character is partly elegiac, partly resigned.
The last movement -Allegro agitato- recalls the mood of the first, but this time the contrasts are even stronger. We may compare it to a battle for supremacy between the solo instrument and the orchestra in which the orchestra maintains almost unceasingly an agressive attitude, and the solo viola displays a milder tone. Although the orchestra concludes with a lively postlude, in my opinion there is no decision as to who has won the battle - the "attacking" orchestra or the solo voice, defending itself gently but by no means unmoved. - HANS HENKEMANS

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