Eastern Concertato is a single-movement piece combining gestures and motives inspired by Chinese music with various textures of modern orchestration, then incorporating it all into a dialogue based on the concerto grosso. There are five wind soloists — flute, oboe, clarinet bassoon and tuba — opposing a larger ensemble made of strings, three woodwinds, two percussionists and piano.
The music begins quietly, with the larger group (the ripieno) playing a slow, sparkling and gently turning texture with an elegantly flowing melody. This mood is suddenly broken, though, by the soloists (the concertino) playing a fast and energetic interjection. A back and forth between the ripieno and concertino then continues, with both groups pulling the music in different directions. Complicating the situation further, the soloists continually introduce different melodic and rhythmic ideas, often letting them tumble over each other, sounding like several folk musicians all improvising at the same time. Finally, as if the strings have had enough of these ‘disagreements’, they assume control with an accelerando leading to an assertive climax. But the soloists still continue separating themselves into different characters and smaller groups. The final and most extreme of these places actually begins in a civilized way, with clarinet playing a simple solo. But soon the solo oboe adds contrasting ideas, followed by the flute, bassoon and eventually tuba. The result is chaos. But just when it seems that the soloists will never cooperate with each other or the ensemble, they rhythmically lock in with each other and the ripieno to form an energetic pulse-driven texture. From here onwards, the music rushes toward the end with a bright, strong and optimistic tutti.
(performance duration ca. 9 minutes)
With minor adjustments (shown on the score), the strings can be performed with one player per part. A small string section of approximately 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 is recommended.