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Title Pleasing Pizzicatos
Composer David Johnstone
Instrumentation String Orchestra (Violin 1 & 2, Viola, Cello, Bass)
Duration Performance time approx. 4.30 mins
Cat. No. JM 38 SC
Edition / Format 2007 A4 Score & Extractions (instrumental parts)

People have always enjoyed pizzicato moments and movements in classical music – the famous 'Pizzicato Polka' and Tchaikovsky's Fourth Symphony immediately spring to mind. There are other brief examples, too, hidden in the normal 'arco' movements. However, few pieces have ever given the pizzicato accompaniment to the less sonorous violins and violas, and coaxed out all the wonderfully open and deep vibrations of the Double-bass section in pizzicato, as if they were the soloists, and this is also true to a lesser extent for the violoncellos. That is what I have done here; that is why the official piece description is 'Popular Miniature for Strings with special interest for Double-basses'.

It only lasts for about four minutes, but I hope that some of the Prokofiev-type humour will shine through, and that a couple of disguised themes might prove amusing. It is well suitable for all sizes of string sections, from small chamber orchestras to large symphonic sections. Furthermore, it is not at all hard technically, but the control of the fluctuating 'tempo' is very important (both by the orchestral players, and also by the conductor!) to achieve convincing performances. In lighter music programmes or as an 'encore' is where this piece is so ideally placed, but it could be an interesting fun study-piece in the control of pizzicato techniques for college and youth orchestras! However, it is well worth pointing out that this little composition works absolutely perfectly in a chamber music formation that is to say, string quartet with 'obligato' double-bass, and in this way it might be very appealing to competent double-bassists who all are too often 'hidden away' from the limelight, but are really non-acknowledged 'stars'!

When I was writing this I could not help thinking of my colleague and friend, the extraordinary bassist Piotr Korewjo, who for a number of years has been the Principal Double-bassist in the 'Orquesta Sinfónica de Navarra' (Spain). His improvisations in pizzicato (both in classical and jazz) and his image frequently came to my head whilst contemplating this little piece, which made it much easier to write. Taking this into account, obviously he had to be the dedicatee of this joyous composition!

The first performance of the piece was given by the 'Swinging Strings' of the Basque National Orchestra (Orquesta Sinfónica de Euskadi) who immediately afterwards recorded the work on CD. On both occasions the conductor was Caroline Collier.

Parts Violin 1, Violin 2, Viola, Cello, Bass
Sound sample
from the album Entre Dos Mundos - Pleasing Pizzicatos for String Orchestra
Price Conductor Score £13.50
Extractions (Instrumental Parts) available individually as required at £1.00 each
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Page from score Music sample for Pleasing Pizzicatos
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This page was last updated on 23 June, 2007