KONTRA (2002)

KONTRA (2002)

for ensemble

ensemble: cl, cor*, perc, 2vno, vla, vc, cb
duration: 15 minutes
première: September 26, 2002, Narodni dom Maribor, Slovenia
Ensemble Musical September, Radovan Vlatković – French horn
Conducted by Arvid Engegard


score preview



September 26, 2002, Narodni dom Maribor (première)
Ensemble Musical September, Conducted by Arvid Engegard

Additional performances

January 23, 2003, University for Music “Carl Maria von Weber” Dresden
The New Music Ensemble by the University for Music “Carl Maria von Weber” Dresden


KONTRA features the French horn and the clarinet as soloists over an ensemble of percussion and string quintet. The work opens quietly with veiled tremoli in the tam-tam, which is soon joined by the double bass, the lowest register of the French horn and the cello. Presently, he upper strings enter, starting in the stratosphere and gradually descending over the course of two minutes to join the lower instruments. Against the string backdrop, the horn and the clarinet perform soli over the full gamut of their respective ranges, both in terms of register and in terms of their technique. The upper strings having descended as far as possible, the cello ascends to its highest register and performs its own, wailing recitative, followed by a smaller solo for the viola. The entire ensemble builds to a climax, consisting of rapid, repeated cascades. Against this backdrop, the horn enters with a sustained crescendo on a single pitch.

The other instruments subside and the horn performs an extensive cadenza (released separately as the CADENZA PER CORNO). As the cadenza draws to a close, the other instruments re-enter, with the clarinet engaging in a smaller cadenza to follow that of the horn. The horn player leaves the stage after his/her cadenza, followed by the clarinet in its turn. One after the other, the other players conclude their roles and leave, until only the percussionist remains. Finally, leaving the instruments to resonate, the percussionist also takes his/her leave and the music concludes to an empty stage.

Alwyn Tomas Westbrooke