NB, the links to the scores are after the blurb!
Rachel Stott has written a number of works with viola d'amore. She recently contacted me, asking me if I would post her works on my website. I haven't performed any of her work, not yet, it is hard finding 6 violists d'amore, and her music is not easy. But I have practiced some of her music and find I like her notes, there is a lot of pleasure in the pitches she choses.
Here is what Rachel has to say about the viola d'amore and her music:
"I have been writing for viola d’amore since 1998, when I first started to play the instrument. One of my earliest enterprises was forming the Ariosti Duo, with baryton player Jeremy Brooker. Jeremy’s idea of creating a duo from these two sympathetically strung instruments was inspired, but though they are so obviously suited to one another, there was no repertoire specifically written for the two together. We began by arranging music, left, right and centre, from Bochsa to Bartok, and then I wrote Had Bach Had Legal Aid, a whimsical piece inspired by an episode in the life of J.S.Bach, in which he was briefly imprisoned. My other piece for viola d’amore and baryton, Tyger tyger, with tenor singer, was composed as part of a chamber oratorio, Companion of Angels, written in 2007 for the 250th anniversary of the birth of William Blake. Two songs for soprano, percussion and solo viola d’amore, Eternity and Song of Spring were also part of this piece.
In 2000 I recorded a CD of music for soprano and violin/viola/viola d’amore, which includes Ariel’s Songs. For Ariel’s Songs the tunings of the two viola d’amores are not standard but are given on the last page of the score. The kantele – gloriously resonant Finnish harp, a five string version of which is used in music education in Scandinavia and elsewhere – may be played either by the singer, or by a fourth performer.
My most recent pieces for viola d’amore have taken as their inspiration the music of Ancient Greece and the story of the Odyssey. Odysseus in Ogygia (2011) came about in a curious way. In June 2011 I acquired a new instrument from French maker Olivier Calmeille. Olivier brought it to me on a visit to England, and because I knew several other players in London who were interested in his work I decided to organise a ‘viola d’amore coffee morning’ in my flat and sent round a general invitation. In the end six players were able to come, (is London the only city in the world where this could happen?) and so of course I couldn’t resist the opportunity to write something for six viola d’amores; just a few short sketches, but people seemed to like them, especially trying out the more unusual techniques like bowing on the sympathetic strings. Thus encouraged, I worked on the piece during the early autumn of 2011 and recorded it in February 2012. The six players on that recording were Daniela Braun, Hazel Brooks, Catherine Martin, Holly Harman, Nicolette Moonen and Julia Black.
At around the time of this recording I decided to attend the 2012 Viola d’amore Congress, which was due to be held in Innsbruck in June. Marianne Ronez, to whom I had sent the score of Odysseus in Ogygia, invited me to give a talk about writing for viola d’amore, and as a result I wrote a solo piece to demonstrate some of the contemporary techniques I would be talking about. This piece, Foure Fountaines, was for solo 7 string viola d’amore, accompanied by a zither or harp, in a tuning with two quarter tone tuned strings, from lowest to highest: D, D ¼ sharp, A, D, G, G ¼ sharp, D. In the Innsbruck performance the zither was played by Daniela Braun but I have recently recorded it using gothic harp with harpist Keith McGowan. Odysseus in Ogygia was also performed in Innsbruck. The players were Daniela Braun, Klaus Voigt, (d’amores in A major tuning), Rachel Stott, Elena Kraineva, (viola d’amores in C minor tuning), Anne Schumann, Julia Rebekka Adler, (viola d’amores in D minor tuning).
For more information, please contact Rachel at email@example.com, thanks, Rachel"Now Rachel's Music:
Here is a link to a pdf score of Odyseus in Ogygia, for six violas d'amore.
The music depicts Odyseus during his captivity by Calypso. There are many things I like about this work, which Rachel has recorded and is planning to put on youtube. Here are just a couple: there is something about the emphasis of the very low, and the very high register of the viola d'amore, that for me is quite profoundly moving. Can any instrument moan or wail or keen quite as well as the as the viola d'amore does here? When I have played the recording for my colleages, very often they have trouble guess what instruments are playing.
And there is the plucking of the open strings of the various tunings, depicting Calypso's golden shuttle, which is also striking.
Here is Odyseus in Oggygia.
Here is another Odysey inspired work:
Foure Fountaines, for viola d'amore and harp. This is a quick version, made scanning a hard copy. contact Rachel directly for a more refined file.
Here are some other scores by Rachel:
Ariel's Songs (from Shakesspeare's Tempest) for soprano, Kantele, and 2 violas d'amore.
Eternity for Soprano, bells and viola d'amore.
Song of Spring for Soprano, Kantele, and viola d'amore.
Had Bach had Legal Aid for viola d'amore and baryton
Tyger, Tyger for Tenor, viola d'amore and baryton
for more info, firstname.lastname@example.org