That Obscure Object of Desire

That Obscure Object of Desire

Sinfonia Concertante for Solo Violin, Solo Viola, and Chamber Orchestra
(2012)

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Score Information

Duration
17 min.
Premiere
December 30, 2012 – January 1, 2013
Scott St. John, violin
Sharon Wei, viola
San Francisco Chamber Orchestra
Benjamin Simon, conductor
Herbst Theatre, San Francisco
Commissioner
The Serge Koussevitzky Music Foundation at the Library of Congress and dedicated to the memory of Serge and Natalie Koussevitzky.
Notes
What to do with a double concerto? I’d written one eight years earlier for two bassoons, in which the two soloists were intertwined and, if you shut your eyes and discount spatial differences, indistinguishable from one another. But when the solo instruments are violin and viola, physically and temperamentally different, different roles are required. I thought immediately of Luis Buñuel’s brilliant 1977 film, That Obscure Object of Desire, in which the principal role of a young flamenco dancer is played in alternately by two different actresses of different character. The other principal role, of the dancer’s older, wealthy, and sexually frustrated (non-) lover, I assigned to the orchestra. And then the form of the piece, took the form of the movie, including the explosive ending.
Press
“a stunning palette of differing sonorities”
   — Stephen Smoliar, The Examiner
Performance History
  • December 30, 2012: Scott St. John, violin and Sharon Wei, viola with the San Francisco Chamber Orchestra conducted by Benjamin Simon, Herbst Theatre, San Francisco
  • December 31, 2012: Scott St. John, violin and Sharon Wei, viola with the San Francisco Chamber Orchestra conducted by Benjamin Simon, First Congregational Church, Berkeley, California
  • January 1, 2013: Scott St. John, violin and Sharon Wei, viola with the San Francisco Chamber Orchestra conducted by Benjamin Simon, First United Methodist Church, Palo Alto, California