double concerto for twinned strings
akin, the new double concerto by Michel van der Aa for violinst Patricia Kopatchinskaja and cellist Sol Gabetta, received first performances in Cologne and Amsterdam in May 2020.
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.
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