Pentimenti (2012)

for solo cello and imagined accompaniment

Dedicated to Christine Lucia
Written for Friedrich Gauwerky
Bardic Edition Score and part
Duration: c. 14'15"


First performance: Sunday 24 February 2013, 11h00; Nirox Foundation, Johannesburg, South Africa; Friedrich Gauwerky celloperformance details.

Programme note

Pentimenti began as a concertante work for cello and small ensemble for Friedrich Gauwerky to play at the dance-themed Johannesburg Mozart Festival in February 2013. When the festival director got cold feet, the work morphed into a piece for solo cello and imagined accompaniment, with some of the pentimenti (visible traces of earlier painting beneath the paint on the canvass, as often found in Matisse for example) of the original accompaniment still evident in the score. Pentimenti marks the centenary of the riotous premiere in Paris, on 29 May 1913, of Stravinsky's Le Sacre du Printemps. In the spirit of Sacre I wanted to compose a real dance for the cello (not just a stylised dance movement or suite - music history is crammed full of those), in which "figures" - chords (including the final cello chord in Sacre) and melodic fragments - are choreographed into continually changing patterns on the musical plane ("the stage"). The constant alternation between arco and pizzicato - from the opening chords, through the allusion to Stravinsky's pounding Sacrificial Dance, to the final "duet" - makes enormous demands on the player, but writing for Gauwerky meant that no challenge was impossible. Pentimenti was a birthday present for my wife Christine Lucia, and Friedrich Gauwerky gave the work its premiere at the Nirox Foundation, Sterkfontein, South Africa on 24 February 2013.