David Avshalomov

Elegy for Srings

InstrumentationString orchestra (basses preferably with low C extension)
Length8 minutes
DifficultyEasy to moderate in lower parts, some high range in first violins, none of it fast, a few bluesy rhythms to get the feel of.
CommentsA lyrical, sweet, poignant, soulful, mournful slow piece suitable as a dedicated or general elegy. Tonal with harmonic echoes of Mahler and Scriabine, and a slightly surprising, but integrated, dignified nod to Cab Calloway in the middle. Built around lovely long melodies, with a slow, exquisite, quiet "farewell" ending. A good College orchestra could play it.
SourcesMaterials available from the composer's private label, Raven Music, for purchase or rental (Educational discount).
2402 4th St. No 5,
Santa Monica, CA 90405
email: davshalomov@earthlink.net
ExtrasMP3 excerpts (same passage twice, played once by Moscow Symphony Orchestra, the other by PYP (OR) Alumni Orchestra) are on the website, http://www.davshalomov.com
HistoryRecorded by Moscow Symphony Orchestra for Naxos, composer conducting, released 1999. Performances by PYP (OR) Alumni Orchestra, San Jose Chamber Orchestra, String Orchestra of the Rockies, Musica Bella Orchestra of NY.


San Jose Chamber Orchestra
Scott MacClelland, MetroActive, in Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper. December 14-20, 2000

Though David Avshalomov dedicated his Elegy to the memory of Leonard Bernstein, he actually started it in 1989, the year before Bernstein's death. But a bluesy, pulsing middle section surrounded by weeping melodies might give the opposite impression. Actually, the jazz colors sound more like Gershwin. In any case, the work maintains a sturdy originality and, in this reading, a fine expression.

Avshalomov, at 54 the younger in a dynasty of composer-musicians, stood after the 10-minute opus to accept warm applause from audience and musicians alike.

Colin Seymour, San Jose Mercury News, Dec. 12, 2000

Also on hand was the other modern composer on the bill, David Avshalomov, whose Elegy for string orchestra (1989) is built around a theme haunting enough to bring on those winter doldrums. The theme is so engaging that the eight-minute, five-section work would be highly accessible even if Avshalomov hadn't woven the theme through such a classical structure, with harmonic sensibilities reminiscent of Bartok and Barber. The fourth section even has a jazz bent.

ELEGY for String Orchestra (1989)

This work grew out of its soulful opening melody, arching up, gently falling down. It has five sections. The first (in A minor) spins out the tune in the first violins (who carry the melodic thread for most of the piece), gradually adding accompaniment, cadencing on a 'farewell' harmony, then repeating. The second is a solemn chorale in the lower strings, turning to A major. The third is a high sweet melody in first violins (memories and hope), becoming more impassioned in a second section, under a pulsing accompaniment. The fourth is an unexpected slow blues-y 'stomp,' hitting deliberate 'sour' notes and adding mildly jazzy harmonies in the plucked accompaniment, building, climaxing, relaxing. (This shift has been described by listeners as 'Mahler meets Cab Callaway.') The fifth re-works the opening, now more bitterly harmonized, reaching a 'death' chord, then repeating the 'farewell' cadence. It closes with several plangent phrases echoing the opening motif of the piece.

Contributorthe composer

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