A very modern work today, by Canadian composer Cassandra Miller. Duet for Cello and Orchestra is almost avant-garde in its conception: a solo cello plays the same droning two notes, a perfect fifth apart, through the entire work, marking the time insistently throughout even as the orchestra enters and departs at intervals that feel almost random. The orchestral passages start out sounding like trumpet fanfares, but they become increasingly frantic as we move through the work’s thirty minutes. The work apparently quotes an Italian folksong throughout, while our solo cello keeps playing this weird two-note ostinato until the very end, when at last the soloist gets to do something else: a strange kind of cadenza that soars above the orchestra’s dying ostinato.
It’s a fascinating work. Here is Cassandra Miller’s Duet for Cello and Orchestra.