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November [parts]

string orchestra

November was commissioned by the Royal Chamber Orchestra of Wallonia to commemorate the centenary of the Armistice that ended the First World War in 1918. It is dedicated to the ORCW, but also to the Violons du Roy, a famous Canadian string orchestra, because the two groups will jointly create it worldwide. The orchestra can be divided in two to give the impression of a battle between the different desks, or it can be presented in a traditional way.

The slow and solemn introduction features a monodic motif of 15 notes played by the entire orchestra. The concertmaster concludes with a brief cadenza in the treble supported by an outfit from the rest of the orchestra. This pattern will be harmonised much later in the piece, and it is this harmonisation that will generate the agreements on which the subsequent parties will be based, each developed on a single one of them. Then follow five distinct and contrasting sections that follow one another without interruption. Their dramatic character gives the impression of a struggle between the different desks of the orchestra, a struggle with an uncertain outcome. Then comes the first harmonisation of the opening pattern, a kind of pause between the fighters, but a brief pause since the sections that follow resume the fight, each being harmonically based on the chords of the pattern that have not yet been exploited. Some elements from the previous sections then mix with the new ones.

Throughout the piece, many divisi emphasise the individual qualities of each musician if the work is played in a twelve string formation. The return of the opening motif orchestrated in an even more dramatic and intense way concludes the piece.

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