David Del Tredici: Farewell


American composer David Del Tredici has composed a number of works in a range of different genres, from symphonic to chamber and solo. Farewell for solo violin was commissioned by virtuoso Hilary Hahn, which she often uses as her encore work. This serene work is explained further in Tredici’s programme note:


“Of course you always say farewell to something or someone (in this case it was farewell to my male partner of 10 years, R.W.). I wrote the piece soon after our breakup in a wistful moment (3.5 hours). As I wrote I was feeling neither happy nor sad but almost serene. And because I was writing for my consummate artist friend I decided, as well, to make the piece virtuosic. But – and this is a speciality of Hilary Hahn – virtuosity in the service of enhanced expressivity.”


The Music

As Tredici explains, Farewell is a highly emotive and expressive work that oozes passion from start to end. The opening mid-range melody is sweet and simple. As the intensity begins to grow between the violin and piano, the dynamics also rise and fall. Tredici slips in nuanced dissonance movement between chords, creating an edge to the harmonic language. As the theme is being developed it reaches a climax point, which takes us straight back to the original form of the melody. 

The use of double stopping and the violin’s upper range adds to the drama of the piece. From nowhere fast scalic runs buzz through the texture, adding the stamp of virtuosity into the piece. The music is nostalgic in character and highly-strung in the climactic sections. Tredici manages to get so much out of the violin in Farewell, which showcases the flexibility of the instrument. As the music begins to slow, a cadenza-like section begins, but is only short-lived before the gentle conclusion. 


Final Thoughts

David Del Tredici’s Farewell is an emotive exploration of the violin that is full of rich textures, colourful harmonic language and virtuosic displays of dexterity and emotion. 


Ⓒ Alex Burns

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