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Chaconne: "...con el alma apretada" (2010)
for solo viola



Score available at

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Chaconne: “… con el alma apretada” takes as inspiration a line of text by the Chilean poet Pablo Neruda (1904-1973), from Poeme 10 of the “Twenty Poems of Love and a Song of Despair” , one of Neruda’s first great cycles of poetry.  “Con el alma apretada” means  “with a clenched soul";  "with a tight soul.”


The original line from Neruda reads as follows:


“Yo te recordaba con el alma apretada

de esa tristeza que tú me conoces… 

…Por qué se me vendrá todo el amor de golpe

cuando me siento triste, y te siento lejana?


Roughly, the translation is: “I remembered you with my soul clenched

in that sadness of mine that you know…

…Why will the whole of love come on me suddenly

when I am sad and feel you are far away?”

This sentiment of love separated by a great distance is portrayed in the opening thematic material, a tune with a strained and longing character that is continually varied and cultivated throughout the entirety of the work. The piece is structured in three “sections” – first, the opening “theme” is decoraded (as is typical in a chaconne) – this leads to a middle section which is more stoic, cold, still, and the final section is more in a “toccata-like” character – which ultimately leads back to a restatement of the original theme. 

This piece was originally written in Baltimore in the spring of 2010, and performed at the Peabody Conservatory later that year.  Since then, the work has gone through significant revision.  
Much of the editing is indebted to violist David Rose, who gave the premiere performance of the revised work in February of 2012.

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