15 duets for violin and one other instrument at a time op. 24 A

Dialogue is the guiding principle of René Staar’s fifteen GEMINI DUETS; the composer not only experiments with striking acoustic combinations resulting from variegated tone colors, but also uses widely divergent starting points with respect to content and form.
In each duet the composer employs in an individual manner processes that amalgamate or confront two different chords, which are used to mould the form, and which influence the development of melodic structures and of the general character. Rotation and permutation continually transform the intervals of the chords; reversals, transpositions, and new dispositions are thus constantly structured into new formal processes. But rhythm is also subject to similar principles, thus shaping the individual duets into autonomous pieces, which can be performed either individually or in a sequence arranged at one’s own discretion.
The GEMINI DUETS are however not to be regarded only as concert works; they can also serve as studies for advanced students, particularly those who wish to enhance their rhythmic capacities.
Between 1991 and 2000 Staar worked on the “Premiér Livre” of his GEMINI DUETS (the so-called A-Series), where the composition takes as starting point the combinations of two four-part chords, made up entirely of intervals of seconds, shifting within the range of a tritone.
In its final form the Premiér Livre comprises 15 duets.

 

A1 Duet for violin and flute (1991)
»For Wolfgang Schulz«

Place and date of composition: Vienna 22. January 1991
Premiere:
1991, Tokyo, with Günter Federsel and René Staar
Duration: 1'50''
Score: ECA Nr. 72001/01 Score (Extract, Pdf)

The Duet A1 for violin and flute (A = working number: is a temporary, chronological numbering to be replaced later by another system – e. g. based on instrument groups or performance practice) was written for Wolfgang Schulz, the Vienna Philharmonic's solo flute-player.

René Staar - Gemini Duets A1


Günter Federsel and René Staar
Live recording September 20, 1997 in the ORF-Sendesaal (10th Anniversary Concert of the Ensemble Wiener Collage)

A2 Duet for violin and cello (1991)
»For Franz Bartolomey«

Place and date of composition: Vienna on 17th February 1991
Premiere:
1996, Vienna, with Philipp von Steinaecker and René Staar
Duration: 2 minutes
Score: ECA Nr. 72001/02 Score (Extract, Pdf)

The Duet A2 for violin and cello is divided into various phases whose individual characteristics are identified by the composer alphabetically. Each phase manifests 2-3 characteristic developments which clearly define the structure of the piece (phase 1a - frenzied, passionate, phase 1b - dolce e legatissimo, phase 1c - giocoso, the characteristics of phase 2: a - grandioso, b - misterioso, phase 3: a - dramatico, b - steady, lightly urgent, c - brutal, phase 4: a - delicate, b - with growing intensity, c - tumultous, phase 5: a - clearly phrased, b - heavily accented, pesante, vivo).

 

A3 Duet for violin and viola (1991)
»For Wolf-Dieter Rath«

Place and date of composition: Toronto on 24th Febuary 1991
Premiere:
1991, Kyoto, with Wolf-Dieter Rath and René Staar
Duration: 2 minutes
Score: ECA Nr. 72001/03

The formal component of the Duet A3 for violin and viola is characterized by a »cutting-room« style structure (hence the marking of the individual parts as »Take« 1–3). Each of these cuts represents an intensification of the overall design by means of staggered acceleration although the general impression is one of gentle lines and wavelike motion. This duo was first performed 1991 in Kyoto by its dedicatee, the Vienna Philharmonic viola-player Wolf-Dieter Rath and the composer.

 

A4 Duet for violin and clarinet (1991)
»For Ernst Ottensamer«

Place and date of composition: Tokyo 7th March 1991
Premiere:
1991, Kyoto, with Ernst Ottensamer and René Staar
Duration: 1 minute
Score: ECA Nr. 72001/04

The Duet A4 for violin and clarinet (written for the Vienna Philharmonic’s solo-clarinettist, Ernst Ottensamer) is the shortest of the Gemini series to date with a duration of just over one minute. Direction and tempo are set by a rapidly pulsating Quick March pervaded by feverish syncopations and varying metres.

René Staar - Gemini Duets A4


Stefan Neubauer and René Staar (Studio 4tunes)

 

A5 Duet for violin and piccolo (1991)
»For Günter Federsel«

Place and date of composition: Vienna 1st December 1991
Premiere:
1995, Bratislava, with Günter Federsel and René Staar
Duration: 5'20''
Score: ECA Nr. 72001/05

At first glance, Duet A5 for violin and piccolo seems to strive towards classical variation form. But a reversal of the typical clichés leads to a new facet in the use of the piccolo. The instrument is divested of its usual application of shrilling above all other voices, and instead sometimes plays the lower voice, with violin harmonics on top. In this piece with its predominantly piano dynamic, the traditional characteristics of the piccolo are applied only as contrast. The composer uses a form where a continually varied refrain appears between contrasting episodes that recall caricatures of traditional piccolo playing. This piece, written for the Vienna Philharmonic’s flutist Günther Federsel and lasting over five minutes, becomes a kind of mini-epic, whose division into episodes and refrain gives it an individual formal character.


A6 Duet for violin and trombone (1991/92)
»For Rudolf Josel«

Place and date of composition: Vienna December 1991 - January 1992
Premiere:
June 29, 2002 in the Arnold Schönberg Center, with Ian Bousfield and René Staar
Duration: 3 minutes 40
Score: ECA Nr. 72001/06 Score (Extract, Pdf)

In his Duet A6 for violin and trombone the composer seems to revert once more to the march character of Duo A4 intensified here, however, into something grotesque and absurd by orgies of glissandi in both instruments and unexpected rhythmic dovetailing. Trombone and violin indulge in a satirical trial of strength, tailor-made for the character of the philharmonic solo trombone-player and dedicatee Rudolf Josel.

René Staar - Gemini Duets A6


Live recording of the premiere

 

A7 Duet for violin and tenor saxophone (1995)
»For Peter Rohrsdorfer«

Place and date of composition: Vienna 18th July 1995
Premiere:
Bratislava, 1995, with Peter Rohrsdorfer and René Staar
Duration: 2 minutes 30
Score: ECA Nr. 72001/07 Score (Extract, Pdf)

Duet A7 for violin and tenor saxophone lives off the tension between divisions into two and three of various units. Relations and time units are used more purposefully as in Duo A1 for example. Tension and relaxation of the chordal development result from a calculated structural extension that appears to determine the form of the piece although it is at no time melodically or harmonically noticeably relevant or break out of the appointed framework. The piece is dedicated to the Ensemble Wiener Collage’s saxophone player, Peter Rohrsdorfer.

René Staar - Gemini Duets A7


Peter Rohrsdorfer and René Staar (April 26, 2008 in ASC)

 

A8 Duet for violin and accordion (1997)
»For Alfred Melichar«

Place and date of composition: Vienna 14th April 1997
Premiere:
September 20, 1997 in the ORF-Sendesaal (10th Anniversary Concert of the Ensemble Wiener Collage), with Alfred Melichar and René Staar
Duration: 2 minutes 30
Score: ECA Nr. 72001/08

In the Duet A8 for violin and accordion (written for the accordionist Alfred Melichar) the composer creates, by means of flowing overlapping of the violin part with that of the accordion, apparently atmospheric transformations that are intensified gradually by tempo and character changes only quite suddenly to disappear completely by a resolution of the final chord. The composer here consciously simplifies the formal structure in the interest of the mood and flow of the music.

René Staar - Gemini Duets A8


Alfred Melichar and René Staar (studio production ORF)

 

A9 Duet for violin and bass (1997)
»For Michael Seifried«

Place and date of composition: Vienna, 14th May 1997
Premiere:
September 20, 1997 in the ORF-Sendesaal (10th Anniversary Concert of the Ensemble Wiener Collage), with Michael Seifried and René Staar
Duration: 1 minute 50
Score: ECA Nr. 72001/09

The Duet A9 for violin and double bass (written for the Ensemble Wiener Collage’s Michael Seifried) plays with tempo relations within a complex, rhythmic structure and so generates an extreme intensification and transformation of character whereby syncopation and accent effects underline the absurdity of the course of events. Formally the work is characterized primarily by complex tempo relations that stand in contrast to harmonic and rhythmic modulations.

René Staar - Gemini Duets A9

 

A10 Duet for violin and trumpet (1998)
»For Martin Angerer«

Place and date of composition: Vienna 16th April 1998
Premiere:
June 4, 1998, Vienna, with Martin Angerer and René Staar
Duration: 4 minutes 20
Score: ECA Nr. 72001/010

A longer piece, the Duet A10 for violin and trumpet is written for the Ensemble Wiener Collage’s young trumpet player Martin Angerer. An idea is developed in two different ways. The form is determined by a phrase consisting of two halves, one stating one amplifying, which occur in five contradistinctive manifestations. These manifestations differ from each other in their harmonic progression and alignment (including the number of chords combined together), in their rhythmically articulated form, in tempo and metre, in the relationship between the two instruments and therefore have nothing in common with the variation form. The composer imposes strange sound patterns such as those of the »wow-wow«-muted trumpet initially articulating its rhythms with the aid of muting effects and, with its syncopations, contrasting with the 5/8 movements, divided into groups of three and five, in the violin.

 

A11 Duet for violin and tuba (1998)
»For Ronald Piesarkiewicz«

Place and date of composition: Salzburg, 15 August 1998
Premiere:
December 13, 1998, Vienna, with Ronald Piesarkiewicz and René Staar
Duration: 2 iminutes 30
Score: ECA Nr. 72001/011

Duet A11 for violin and tuba, written for the Vienna Philharmonic tuba player Ronald Piesarkiewicz, was intended by the composer as a criticism of the forced freezing of new music through the cliché of “comprehensibility to a wider audience”. The bass tuba is used as quasi-pedal point in a suite “im alten Stil” (a diction used in the early 20th century by composers such as Max Reger), parodying baroque and classical formality. It is—quite oddly—made up of the movements Prelude, Gavotte, and “quasi” Chaconne.

 

A12 Duet for violin and oboe (2000)
»For Gottfried Boisits«

Place and date of composition: Island Pond, N. H. and in Salzburg, in July and August 2000
Premiere:
January 16, 2007 at the Arnold Schönberg Center, with Marian Vasile and René Staar
Duration: 4 minutes 30
Score: ECA Nr. 72001/012

The Duet A12 for violin and oboe was composed in 2000 and is dedicated to the Vienna Philharmonic oboist Gottfried Boisits. Here a musical process is initiated which, starting out from the union of the two timbres, leads into a sound and articulation spectrum of oboe staccatos and violin glissandi. One departs from a unity structured by the bordering tones of the oboe and arrives at the total independence of the two instruments.

René Staar - Gemini Duets A12


Live recording of the premiere

 

A13 Duet for violin and harp (2000)
»For Xavier de Maestre«

Place and date of composition: Island Pond and in Vienna, July—17 November 2000
Premiere
: June 13, 2012 in the Arnold Schönberg Center (Vienna), with Gabriela Mossyrsch and Bojitara Kouzmanova
Duration: ca. 3 minutes
Score: ECA Nr. 72001/013
Pre-Concert Lecture

Duet A13 for violin and harp is dedicated to Xavier de Maestre, and exhibits a rather differentiated rhythmic construction. The middle section, whose harp arpeggios have a classical effect, is preceded and followed by sections where the instruments tend to be independent from one another. It is a virtuoso piece for two fundamentally different instruments.

 

A14 Duet for violin and percussion (2000)
»For Ulrike Stadler-Fromme«

Place and date of composition: Island Pond, Washington, N. H., on 26 July 2000
Premiere
: January 10, 2003, Vienna, with Michael Masciasczyk and Ulrike Stadler-Fromme
Duration: 3 minutes 50
Score: ECA Nr. 72001/014

Duet A14 for violin and percussionist playing bongos, snare drum, tom-toms, and bass drum, displays a rhythmic structure built by several tempo proportions, which are ordered into strophes. Changing meters offer complex and stimulating rhythmic surprises.

René Staar - Gemini-Duets Nr. 14


Live recording of the premiere

 

A15 Duet for violin and bassoon (2000)
»For Harald Müller«

Place and date of composition: Salzburg and Vienna, August—November 2000
Duration:
4 minutes 40
Score: ECA Nr. 72001/015

Duet A15, the last of the first volume of Gemini Duets, is written for violin and bassoon and dedicated to the Vienna Philharmonic’s bassoonist Harald Müller. The work is, like the Duet A3 for violin and viola, conceived very melodically, whereby the roles appear to be traditionally assigned: one instrument plays the principal voice while another accompanies. The work goes through diverse processes of harmonic transformation, whereby the composer was particularly occupied with transitions and conclusions.

 

Manuscripts:


Manuscript
Gemini Duets
Sketch
original size

Manuskripts
Gemini Duets
Chord Realignments
original size