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Chris Gendall’s Thumbnail Sketch of the Triple Concerto


Commentary or analysis


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The Triple Concerto is about 20 minutes long. It has five movements, which are played uninterrupted.

They have slightly ironic names that give a clue to their content.

  1. The first movement is called Processional. Nobody enters but the music itself. Gendall imagines it leading the music to you, adding that he likes to set up a dramaturgy for the piece in which the music itself plays the characters. Like an opera, the music sets up situations that lead to the next episode, yet there is no story as such.

  2. The second movement, Ritual, is more frantic. “There’s a hot pursuit in the music.”

  3. The third movement, jokingly called Orchestra Tacet, is a cadenza for the NZtrio on their own. “They play a kind of music that seems to be constantly forgetting and then recovering its memory.”

Gendall says that they require a certain kind of virtuosity to give the sense of sliding in and out of coherence. “It’s exciting, almost exhilarating, as the music loses and finds itself.”

  1. The fourth movement, Chorale, is where the brass, scattered around the hall, come into their own. Gendall calls it the “gnarly” movement, having set rough-sounding harmonies next to homogenous ones. He’s modelled his brass writing on antiphonal writing such as Gabrieli. The ending is a surprise.

  2. The fifth movement, Circuits, refers to the way sound moves around the ensemble in a circular way. But Gendall also constructed it with ever-decreasing circles of harmonic material. The overall mood is soft and bubbly.


Author note

Chris Gendall

Content note

Chris Gendall's comments on his Triple Concerto, in preparation for it's premiere performance in August 2012.