Concerto for Two Unaccompanied Instruments

Commissioned by Melanie Garrett, trumpet
Cover Art by Kelsey Birdseye

This piece was originally intended to be a concerto for two unaccompanied trumpets.  The score that is posted is the version for the trumpets, though it would be suitable for most brass players.  Other editions of this piece exist for bassoon, clarinet, and flute, so ultimately anyone can play it with anyone else.  This transformation occurred while I was attempting to get part of the piece performed during the first year of my masters, and I was unable to find any trumpet players that were willing to prepare it to an acceptable level in the time allowed.  While relaying this story to a friend of mine, Joseph Kluesener (a very talented bassoonist), he took a glance at the first two movements and said, “I can play that,” and quickly followed it up with, “and Mary can play the other part.”  Mary Stuckmeyer was another bassoonist whom we happened to be in a class with.  Thus the Concerto for Two Unaccompanied Instruments began to form, and with a suggestion by a colleague of mine, Eric Schultz, it was so.

Having only two instruments of the same timbre to work with for this commission, I quickly realized that the piece would have to be broken into shorter movements with distinct characters to prevent unprecedented boredom.  The first movement is built off of a single motive, presented in the first instrument, and the idea where two people are saying the same thing at the same time, except not quite…  The first character is very pronounced and assertive, whereas the second character is a little sluggish and wants to try and explore new areas, almost intentionally annoying the first character.

The second movement is a song in the form of ABA’ (or half A, as the case may be).  The second instrument takes the lead, solemnly backed by the first instrument.  This was designed to show off the expressive qualities of the instruments in a very lyrical, transparent way where quality of sound is the prevailing interest.

Movement three was actually written first out of all of the others after spending a lot of time studying the melodic textures of Joseph Schwantner.  I wanted to experiment with the timbre changes that mutes have on the trumpets (though different effects are implemented for instruments that lack the ability to be muted like the trumpet), as well as the different colorful registers.  This movement should be in between the previous two, possessing some sort of unsettling quality to it that never quite gets resolved.

The resolution occurs in the fourth movement which focuses on the double and triple tonguing ability of so many instruments.  It also quickly begins to juxtapose the more lyrical side of the second movement over the relentless triplets.  Though more solid in formal structure than the previous three, this movement concludes the entire piece in a very flashy manner, showing off the technical ability of the performers, as well as their astounding endurance for making it through a relatively long piece for only two people.

This work is available for the following groups of instruments:

Flutes (piccolo, soprano, and alto) and Clarinets (Eb, Bb, A)
Bassoons
Trumpets (Bb or C)
Trombones
Tubas/Euphoniums
Violins
Violas

Concerto for Two Unaccompanied Instruments

Media

Score Readable PDF Score of Concerto for Two Unaccompanied Instruments
Recording

Upcoming Concerts

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Past Concerts

Kurt Mehlenbacher, composer  

Date Venue City More
06/04/10 Fentener van Vlissingenzaal, Utrechts Conservatorium, Hogeschool voor de Kunsten Utrecht Kurt Mehlenbacher, composer in Utrecht, Netherlands [+/-]
11/15/09 Katzin Concert Hall, Arizona State University School of Music Kurt Mehlenbacher, composer in Tempe [+/-]
04/06/09 Katzin Concert Hall, Arizona State University School of Music Kurt Mehlenbacher, composer in Tempe [+/-]