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Schiffman: Three Concerti
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Schiffman: Three Concerti
Harold Schiffman

Rebekah Binford, violin; Tamas Zempleni, horn; Pal Bokor, bassoon; Akos Takacs, 'cello; Matyas Antal, conductor; The Gyor Philharmonic Orchestra

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Track List
1-3. Concerto for Violin and Orchestra (2006)
4-6. Double Concerto for Horn, Bassoon and String Orchestra (1992)
7-10. Concerto for Violoncello and Orchestra (1979)

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Of the three concerti on this recording, the most recent—the Concerto for Violin and Orchestra (2006)—has some of the oldest thematic material. I began to sketch out a violin concerto in 1953 while I was serving in the U.S. Army in Germany. I later put it aside and never finished it. The impetus for the present work came when Rebekah Binford entered my musical world some twenty or more years ago. She is not only a very dear friend, but she has long been an ardent champion of my music. I don't recall exactly how it happened, whether it was her idea or mine, but I promised her two pieces: a sonata for solo violin, and a concerto for violin and orchestra. I completed the sonata in 1993, and Bekah premièred it in Charlotte, North Carolina, in 1998. When I came to write the concerto, my thoughts somehow went back to the 1953 piece. The main idea for what was to have been the first movement of that work became the principal theme for the second movement of this one, thus bridging the gap of a half century. I am sure my musical language has changed considerably over the past five decades, so I find it remarkable that a remembered old musical gesture (the sketches have long since disappeared) could fit so comfortably into what I do now.
The orchestra for the Violin Concerto consists of paired woodwinds, four horns, harp, celesta, percussion, and strings. According to violinist Binford, there are three things one can expect to find in my music: “counterpoint, fugue, and a waltz.” I don't know that this is always the case, but it is certainly true of this concerto.
The Double Concerto for Horn, Bassoon and String Orchestra (1992) was written in response to a commission from a husband and wife team in the North Carolina Symphony at that time: the late hornist Eileen Gress and bassoonist Victor Benedict. They had been offered an opportunity to perform a concerto together with the orchestra, and they were unable to find one. So they came to me. This particular pair of solo instruments blends exceedingly well, so it is surprising that their joining in a concerto is rare. Eileen was an enthusiastic horsewoman, and this was the inspiration for the hunting call motif of the last movement.

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