Concerto Variations (1988) was composed for Theodore Antoniou and ALEA III. The work places the virtuosic writing of a concerto within a theme and variations form. Ideas of opposition and contrast, which are characteristic of concerto writing, play a central role in Concerto Variations. The notion of pitting a solo instrument or group of instruments against the rest of the ensemble is evident at the beginning of this composition where the strings, woodwinds, and brass each have their own unique character. The introduction builds in intensity and the cello emerges as the solo instrument which presents the theme. The theme disolves and flows into the first variation where all the instruments (dichotomize) share the thematic material. The first variation ends abruptly with the second beginning as a violin cadenza until the other instruments join in with their own cadenzi. A lyric trumpet and horn duet is prominent in the third variation while the fourth contains a nervous scherzo over a jazz influenced bass. The fifth variation, which is very fast and short, flows directly into the finale which presents the theme as a type of cantus firmus. Brief pauses occur only after the second and fourth variations.
Click on the link below to download an audio excerpt of ALEA III performing Concerto Variations under the direction of Theodore Antoniou.
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