Augusta Read Thomas: Clara's Ascent for String Orchestra featuring Solo Cello [Printed Music]

Clara's Ascent for string orchestra (or string quartet) features the solo cello in a lyrical and intricately contrapuntal work. The cello serves as protagonist as well as a fulcrum point, on and around which the other player's musical force-fields bloom, rotate, and proliferate. Although highly notated, precise, carefully structured, soundly proportioned, and while musicians are elegantly working from a nuanced, specific text, I like my music to have the feeling that it is organically being self-propelled –on the spot - as if we listeners are overhearing (capturing) an un-notated improvisation. This short work celebrates the manner in which the musicians embody sound. Musical transformations and carefully crafted connections unfold with a natural impulse. An optimistic, flexible-sounding, sonorous ascending journey weaves itself forward as if it is spinning innately out of their instruments. In the most general of terms, the form of the work is a 6-minute crescendo during which the soloist moves from the very lowest notes up to the highest possible, reaching as if the soloist is trying to kiss the sky. On the occasion of the 200th anniversary of the birth of Clara Schumann, this work honours the legacy and contributions of a pioneering performer, caring collaborator and artistic confidant. Augusta Read Thomas

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