CONCERTO FOR HARPSICHORD
And Seven Instruments
|by Christopher Fulkerson|
DOWNLOAD the World Premiere performance
This concerto was one of my first major essays, and reflects my lifelong fascination with plectral sounds. With this piece I really began to feel comfortable with the Expressionist style, the true idiom of our time, and began to employ my own nuances of the rules of modern counterpoint, such as an exception allowing octave doublings for tritones with certain types of spacings. Though written in a free style it is formally quite rigorous; with this piece I began to learn to be economical with my material: after a slow introduction in which the sound palette is carefully presented, it has a double exposition which, upon recapitulation, presents its two main ideas simultaneously: not something very likely in the tonal style. There are several cadenzas or cadenza-like ideas.
The Harpsichord required is the reasonably portable, fairly common two-manual instrument with eight foot stops and a buff stop. It interacts with an ensemble consisting of Oboe, Clarinet, Mandolin, Guitar, Harp, Violin, and Viola. The piece was written in 1979 and is nine minutes long.
The work is the only piece of mine yet to win an award, but it gives me some solace that it was the only First Prize in musical composition ever given by the entire University of California system, including all the campuses. This was done through a special, temporary agency created for the purpose, called the Intercampus Cultural Exchange. An outside jury, that is, of composers not in the UC System, awarded the prize. The ICE sponsored at least one other UC Systemwide competition, in visual art, but to date is the only competition of its kind in the history of the University. After holding its mandated competitions, the ICE was dismantled. I submitted this work for my Master's Thesis in Musical Composition.
The premiere performance was given twice, with Jonathan Schiff playing the Harpsichord part and Eric Hansen conducting. This performance can be found on the CD set MODERNISM FOREVER. Also available are two performances with Wyatt Insko at the Harpsichord, and the composer conducting.