Duration: 9 min 30 seconds.
First Performance: August 1995, by Brian Schiele (Viola) and Robin Hales (Piano) at the Three Choirs Festival, Gloucester.
‘Soliloquy for Viola and Piano’ Op. 26 was commissioned by the Gloucester Three Choirs Festival for performance in their 1995 meeting and was partially revised in 2009. It came about as the result of the composer’s friendship with the then Three Choirs Secretary, the author, Anthony Boden. He has been an unfailing supporter of both Ian Venables and his music and is a figure whom the composer considers to be vital to both his artistic development and later success: it also accounts for the dedication to he and his wife Anne.
Soliloquy is cast in one continuous movement and for the most part, it is the viola that carries the main melodic material: although this is not to suggest that the piano plays a subordinate role. It opens with a ruminative melody for solo viola from which most of the subsequent material is developed. The piano entry heralds the first of three short bridge passages in which it plays solemn chords. After a lyrical but affirmative melody, the mood becomes one of great solemnity as a prelude to the first of three important climaxes. The second and third climaxes surround a lyrical episode where the piano plays its only solo passage. The coda begins with a plaintive restatement of the opening material only this time accompanied by rapt chords. A sustained high d natural from the viola is left suspended as the piano intones once more its desolate threnody.