Portrait of Peter Paul Koprowski thumbtack

Viola Concerto

movement I. - viola entry
movement III. - conclusion (total: 3'03")

Toronto Symphony Orchestra
Conductor: Jukka-Pekka Saraste
Viola: Rivka Golani
Score sample

Duration: 25 minutes

Written: 1995

Premiered: January 27, 1996

Windsor Symphony

Conductor: Susan Haig

Viola: Rivka Golani

RECORDING

(CBC Records - SMCD 5206)

CD includes Koprowski's:

Redemption - record
  • (Robert Aitken, flute)
  • (Joseph Petric, accordion)

Jukka-Pekka Saraste, conductor
Toronto Symphony Orchestra

“All three concertos are gripping, large-scale, full of virtuoso demands for the players and an emotional pay-off for the audience. The 1993 Accordion Concerto, the most unusual, pays homage to Koprowski's Slavic roots. A dark strain of East European soulfulness permeates all three works.
For visceral excitement, it is hard to beat the 1996 Viola Concerto, yet the piece is full of melancholy lyricism and a poetic display of the viola's dusky warmth.
The fullest spiritual range is in the 1982 Flute Concerto, which has a Prokofieff-like scherzo and a limpid flute line set against a turbulent, colorful orchestra.”

September 2001 - American Record Guide

Instrumentation:

  • Viola Solo
  • 2 Flutes, 2 Oboes, 2 Clarinets, 2 Bassoons
  • 2 Trumpets, 2 Horns
  • Timpani/Percussion (2 players preferred)
    (Vibraphone, Xylophone, Triangle, Cymbal, Tam-Tam (low), 4 Tom-Toms, Sanre Drum, Bass Drum, Ratchet)
  • Strings (minimum one Double Bass with low C extension required)

Movements:

  1. Moderato - Prestissimo
  2. Andante
  3. Presto

Background:

The single most important objective behind the Viola Concerto was to provide the soloist with a convincing vehicle to effectively communicate her individuality as an artist to her audience. The strong personality of the commissioner, Rivka Golani, made it both inspiring and challenging for me. It took me an unusually long time (approximately one year) to complete the piece. The end result saw a concerto full of theatrical drama mixed with poetic lyricism, melancholy, speed (on occasion working itself to a bizarre frenzy), and a touch of humour blended in.

As in my other orchestral works of recent years (Sinfonias, Concerti, or Intermezzo) the restoration of a melody into the late twentieth century context was of primary importance. The Viola Concerto is full of beautifully interwoven melodic lines presented within a rich harmonic context.
The drama unfolds in three movements, following closely the tradition of a romantic concerto. The closing Presto movement (which includes the cadenza) follows a rather lethargic middle movement (Andante) with a passionate ending.
The opening movement: Moderato - Prestissimo evolves slowly into a Prestissimo which, within itself, seems to forecast the events of the movements that follow. The viola part is very eventful and is meant to keep the ear alert.

The Viola Concerto was inspired by, and is dedicated to, Rivka Golani. It was made possible through the support of the Windsor Symphony Orchestra, and the financial assistance of the Ontario Arts Council and the Laidlaw Foundation.

The Viola Concerto was one of the four orchestral works (together with the Symphony of Nordic Tales, Concert Overture Saga, and Ancestral Voices for String Orchestra), for which I was awarded Jean A. Chalmers National Music Awards.
It was recorded (together with my concerti for Flute and Accordion) by Rivka Golani and the Toronto Symphony Orchestra under Jukka-Pekka Saraste.