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Ulrich Leyendecker: World Premiere of Viola Concerto in Kaiserslautern

Compared to its little sister, the violin, the viola sounds somewhat more stuffed up. And because it is usually damned to providing sleepily boring accompaniment in the orchestra, it has always had to put up with a lot of joking. But since world stars such as Yuri Bashmet, Kim Kashkashian and Nobukolmai have been touring the globe with spectacular concertos for this instrument by Alfred Schnittke and Edison Denisov, among others, one need no longer worry about the viola’s tarnished image.

Ulrich Leyendecker, composer of concertos for clarinet, guitar, violoncello and piano, has now composed a Viola Concerto to be premiered on 19 March 2010 in Kaiserslautern on the occasion of the new opening of the SWF Studio. The work was composed in 2007/08 after the “Mannheim Concerto” for double orchestra commissioned by Wolfram Christ as conductor. Because the collaboration on this project was so fruitful, the idea of continuing it was perfectly natural – resulting in the Viola Concerto dedicated to the violist Wolfram Christ.

The great masters of the past were unfortunately reserved in their attitude towards combining the solo viola and the orchestra, in Leyendecker’s own opinion. “The shyness they have shown in using the viola soloistically, as an instrument of the orchestra’s middle range, is understandable, since its ability to penetrate is less pronounced than that of the violin or the cello.” As with his Guitar Concerto, this was precisely the quality that Leyendecker found especially stimulating. The viola’s very own individual colour and the utilisation of its registers, with its low range overlapping with the middle range of the violoncello and its high range overlapping with the middle range of the violin, results in rich, delicate timbres when the instrument is allowed to come to the fore soloistically – and these are very different from the identical ranges of the violin or violoncello. “I used these,” continues Leyendecker, “by making much use of the characteristic low range and of jumping back and forth between different registers. Along with purely soloistic writing, there are diverse chamber-music combinations with other instruments of the orchestra.”

SWR-Studio, Emmerich-Smola-Konzertsaal, 8 PM
World premiere: Ulrich Leyendecker,
„Concerto for viola and orchestra“
Soloist: Wolfram Christ (viola)
Deutsche Radio Philharmonie Saarbrücken Kaiserslautern
Conductor: Christoph Poppen


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