double concerto for twinned strings
akin, the new double concerto by Michel van der Aa for violinst Patricia Kopatchinskaja and cellist Sol Gabetta, receives first performances in Cologne and Amsterdam in May.

Violinist Patricia Kopatchinskaja and cellist Sol Gabetta are soloists in Michel van der Aa’s new double concerto, akin, premiered at the EIGHT BRIDGES festival in Cologne by the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra on 9 May.

The 25-minute work was commissioned by ACHT BRÜCKEN/Musik für Koln and the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra with funds from the Ernst von Siemens Music Foundation, and Fonds Podiumkunsten. After the premiere at the Philharmonie in Cologne, the concerto travels on with soloists, orchestra and conductor Peter Eötvös for its Dutch premiere at the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam on 10 May. North American performances follow with the Vancouver Symphony on 7 June and the National Arts Centre Orchestra in Ottawa in March 2020.

Michel van der Aa has worked with both soloists on earlier projects – Patricia Kopatchinskaja on the violin work ‘Double’ and Sol Gabetta on his Grawemeyer Award-winning cello concerto with film ‘Up-close’. As the composer notes: “Akin was inspired by the friendship between these two very special string players, reflected in the score through their sharing of the same musical material and communication with a similar voice. When I was deciding on a title I was drawn to an image of identical twins, inseparable and thinking in a related manner to all outward appearances but perhaps with different personalities beneath.

“There is also an affinity between the solo and tutti material, as if the orchestra is an alter-ego of the soloists, operating in the same perspective. The relationship is not contrapuntal or a conflict of opposites as in some concertos but much more an active and engaged discussion between good friends. The percussion section has a prominent role, often soloistic. There are highly rhythmic sections with drum kit and the percussion triggers the release of energy, with pulse patterns creating timepieces – it as if the internal wheels in a clockwork mechanism are turning at different speeds. This provides the blueprint for the music of the string soloists.

“Like my clarinet concerto ‘Hysteresis’, the new work is in two parts. The first movement develops from an intimate opening, bottling up energy like an incubator, while the second movement is much more energetic and vituosic as if the valve on a pressure cooker has been released. I’ve decided, as with my Violin Concerto to write a purely acoustic piece without electronics, allowing the soloists to speak. Apart from a few fully scored sections and some dramatic outbursts the orchestration is very transparent to give enough space for the string lines to materialise.”
— David Allenby / Quarternotes


for solo violin, solo cello, and orchestra

Solo Violin
Solo Cello

1 x Flute
1 x Clarinet (in Bb)
1 x Bass clarinet
1 x Bassoon

4 x French Horns
1 x Trumpet (in C)
1 x Tenor trombone
1 x Bass trombone
1 x Tuba

2 x percussion
1 x harp

Strings (10/10/10/8/6)
Double basses should have a low C string, or string extension to low C


Duration 25'
Commissioned by Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra and Kölner Philharmonie with financial support of Fonds Podiumkunsten and the Ernst von Siemens Musikstiftung
Published by Boosey & Hawkes


Upcoming performances:

  • 09 May 2019
    Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, cond. Peter Eötvös
    Patricia Kopatchinskaya, violin. Sol Gabetta, cello
    Philharmonie, Cologne, Germany
  • 10 May 2019
    Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, cond. Peter Eötvös
    Patricia Kopatchinskaya, violin. Sol Gabetta, cello
    Concertgebouw, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
  • 07 June 2019
    Vancouver Symphony Orchestra
    Otto Tausk, conductor
    Nicholas Wright, violin. Harriet Krijgh, cello
    Orpheum, Vancouver, Canada