Romanza for Violin and Chamber Orchestra
Scored for: violin solo, flute, oboe, clarinet, percussion, harp, piano, strings (also arranged for violin and piano)
Duration: 19:08 min.
Premiere: Orchestra 2001, James Freeman, artistic director, Gloria Justen, soloist
Commissioned by: Orchestra 2001
Published by: Self-published, Angelfire Press
Contact Andrea Clearfield for score and parts:
See preview score pages: ROMANZA FULL SCORE EXCERPT (PDF)
“You always take a chance when commissioning a new piece. Will it be what you’re hoping for? The remarkably positive answer came when I first saw Andrea’s score. A wonderful piece, full of emotion and orchestral color, and a real tour de force for the solo violinist. It’s a piece that should be played by violinists everywhere.”
–James Freeman, Artistic Director, Orchestra 2001
“Andrea Clearfield is a great talent. I ‘painted’ one of her compositions called ‘ROMANZA’ !!! It is an honor to have my art shown on the same page…”
–Annie Haslam, vocalist from the band Renaissance
“Rich and complex, the sound was delicious to behold.”
- Chicago Classical Music, Tuesday, January 11, 2011, Kathryn J Allwine Bacasmot
“Andrea Clearfield juggles traditional lyricism and genial polytonal collages with a virtuosity that never contradicted the title of her new piece, Romanza, premiered over the weekend by violinist Gloria Justen and Orchestra 2001. It could be a lasting contribution to chamber concerto repertoire.”
- The Philadelphia Inquirer, Tuesday, April 17, 2007, David Patrick Stearns
It was an honor to have been asked by James Freeman, artistic director of Orchestra 2001, to write a work in commemoration of his mother, Florence Knope Freeman, an accomplished violinist. The creative process began by viewing photographs, listening to recordings of her playing and obtaining a list of pieces that she loved. It was difficult for a woman to win a job with an orchestra at that time, and so Florence primarily played chamber music. One photograph in particular captured my imagination – Florence performing a quartet with her family in the living room. This image resonated with me as I began to gather musical ideas. I also grew up with chamber music in the home and those early years of playing trios with my parents in the living room had a great impact on my musical life, inspiring me later to create and host Salon concerts in my own living room. After reflecting upon the importance of chamber music in both Florence’s and my life, and considering the proposed instrumentation for chamber orchestra with single winds, I decided to write a concerto that would pay tribute to some of the great Romantic 19th Century string chamber music repertoire, including works that I had played in my earlier years when I was active as a pianist.
The work, essentially about melody and memory, begins with an introduction that builds to a lyrical theme, followed by a second, simpler theme featuring double stops in sixths. Syncopated material is introduced and the themes are developed, giving way to a section of driving rhythms that incorporates fragments of romantic musical gestures juxtaposed with edgy harmonies. There are two cadenzas that frame a central portion of the work in which the solo violin plays a duet with the bass and is later joined by the oboe and piano, a musical reminiscence of the photograph of Florence playing with her husband (bass) and two sons (oboe and piano). Following the second cadenza is a recapitulation of the main thematic material in variation. The piece ends with a long coda in which earlier material and fragments from the past dreamily emerge and dissolve into a veiled tableau of memory.
I am grateful to Gloria Justen, who premiered the work so beautifully, to The Virginia Center for the Creative Arts where the work was sketched, The Kimmel Harding Nelson Center for the Arts where the violin/piano reduction was created and Yaddo, where the orchestration was completed.