Suite for Violin
Suite for Violin
Premiere: 7 May 1985 / Carnegie Hall, New York City, New York / Michaela Paetsch, violin
Instrumentation: solo violin
The Suite for Violin was completed on 22 January 1984 in Philadelphia, where Michaela Paetsch (its dedicatee) gave its first hearing at Curtis Hall on April 13th of that year. (Paetsch took the piece to the Dealey Competition in Dallas, garnering first prize; some minor revisions were made for the official world premiere, which she gave at Carnegie Hall on 13 May 1984.)
The first movement's three part design (12:345:67) recalls that of Bartok's solo sonata, but the overall impression is one of inexorably gathering energy in a lyrical mode. In the second movement Hagen takes us through a seemingly innocent little tune, each time adding new pitches to enrich the harmony, finally building the phrase to an intense summation. The central 'Burlesque' is a straightforward ABA form with a mercurial tone: its oter sections are suitably ascerbic, while in the middle left-hand pizzicati accompany a curious little tune which keeps getting rudely interrupted. The second of the interludes is a free improvisation on some of the first movement's material. Written in tribute to a close composer friend, Norman Stumpf, who died in tragic circumstances, it features a doleful stepping-down figure and plaintive minor thirds in the melody. The moto perpetuofinale is mostly grim, with flashes of light breaking through; its structure is capped by a passionate development of a motivic idea, sketched in octaves and rich chords, which the composer would return to years later for the pathetic character of Catherine Wright in Hagen's opera Shining Brow. The first recording was made by Ms. Paetsch for the Arsis label (Arsis CD111).
— Russell Platt, 1996
(Banner photo: Michaela Paetsch, 1984)