DROPSHOT (2010)

DROPSHOT (2010)

for two French horns and ensemble

solo: 2cor*
ensemble: 1*.0.1*.0/0.1.0.0/2perc/2pno/1.1.0.1.0
duration: 10 minutes
première: March 9, 2010 HfMDK Frankfurt am Main, Germany
International Ensemble Modern Academy
Saar Berger and Sharon Polyak – French horns
Conducted by Susanne Blumenthal

Commissioned by the International Ensemble Modern Academy

DROPSHOT

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DROPSHOT

(full recording)

March 9, 2010, HfMDK Frankfurt am Main, Germany (première)
International Ensemble Modern Academy, Saar Berger and Sharon Polyak – French horns, conducted by Susanne Blumenthal

Additional performances

March 12, 2010, ZKM Karlsruhe, Germany
International Ensemble Modern Academy
Saar Berger and Sharon Polyak – French horns
Conducted by Susanne Blumenthal

ABOUT

With DROPSHOT, Žuraj continues his extensive cycle of compositions with titles lifted from the tennis manual. In tennis, a “drop shot” is a relatively light shot that bounces approximately one metre beyond the net, and then ideally changes direction, owing to the spin imparted upon the ball when it was struck. A drop shot typically alters the dynamics of play, since the opponent is forced to leave their default position at the base line and make a spirited dash towards the net.

Following on from the chamber works DEUCE and CROSSCOURT, DROPSHOT is the first work to take the form of a concerto. A concertino for two French horns and a mixed ensemble of ten musicians, DROPSHOT opens in the grand tradition of concerti with an “orchestral” tutti introduction, in which all of the instruments except the two soloists are present. This introduction begins almost imperceptibly in the instruments’ highest registers, and descends with increasing rapidity and a powerful crescendo to announce the entry of the soloists. These then indulge in a bold double cadenza, underscored by sparing accompaniment from the ensemble.

Although the solo parts are both fiendishly difficult, the challenges faced by the instruments in the accompanying ensemble are not overshadowed easily. The first solo horn player also plays for an extended period on the Wagner tuba, the French horn’s somewhat deeper and darker cousin. The work ends as imperceptibly as it had begun, with horn glissandi fading into thin air and a subtle percussion gesture.

Alwyn Tomas Westbrooke

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