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Rothko Variations

for orchestra

Year:  2004   ·  Duration:  16m
Instrumentation:  3333; 4331; timp., 2 perc; hp, pno; strings | (Perc: extensive standard percussion)

Year:  2004
Duration:  16m
Instrumentation  3333; 4331; timp., 2 perc; ...

Kit Powell

Composer:   Kit Powell

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Kit Powell: Rothko Variatio...

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When one views the work of Mark Rothko (1903-70) one is struck first by the emotional impact of these monumental paintings and then by their similarity - all pictures seem to be variations of one another - variations without a theme, for there are no recognisable objects or motives, just colours, areas and proportions.

My Rothko Variations then are conceived in this sense, not in the traditional musical variation form, but as a series of pieces without themes, containing only orchestral colours and shapes.

In order to put these four “Variations” into a wider perspective I have separated them with three Interludes whose style contrasts strongly with the main material: where the “Variations” are slow and dense, the Interludes are faster and lighter.

What we hear then is:

Variation 1, Interlude 1, Variation 2, Interlude 2, Variation 3, Interlude 3, Variation 4

Performance history

15 Nov 2005: Performed in a rehearsed reading by the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra conducted by Hamish McKeich as part of the NZSO-SOUNZ Readings

Performed by the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra with conductor Kenneth Young at Michael Fowler Centre, in Wellington

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