In addition to being charming and talented musicians, Hakon and Mari Samuelsen are also accessible and generous. Indeed they didn't hesitate an instant to share with us the genesis of Pas de Deux, the Double Concerto for violin and cello composed by James Horner whose world premieres are scheduled for 13 and 14 November 2014. We are very pleased to publish their first words on the creative process of this major musical event.
In 2012 we learnt that James Horner was composing a double concerto for violin and cello. The composer's comments on your site date back from 2011; this is obviously a multi-year project. How did all of this get started ?
It all started with a dream of having one of the worlds leading composers writing a concerto for violin and cello with orchestra. Back in 2010 we were imagining to find a composer accustomed to writing in the tonal and melodic sonic world. After talking to Norwegian director Harald Zwart, he told us he would like to introduce us to James Horner, as they had recently worked together on Karate Kid. We were stunned and super excited and could not really believe this was happening.
Could you tell us about your first meeting with him?
We first met James Horner at Harald Zwart’s residence in Santa Monica, LA, in February 2011. He and his wife organized a inhouse-concert for us and James Horner was invited, but no one was really sure he would show up. After a long delay, a very sympathetic man came in; it was James Horner! We had to extend the concert, and replayed some pieces, as we wanted him to hear a large variety of program, and style of playing. Afterwards we went up to him, and simply asked him quite straight, if he ever could imagine writing something for us, and he said yes!
Could you tell us more about the double concerto ? How long is it, what is the general mood ?
Pas de Deux is the name of the concerto written to us. It is in two parts and duration is about 25-30 min. Written for full symphonic orchestra, a choir and solo violin and cello. The general mood is very lyric and the audience will recognize James Horner’s sonic world as we know it from his most well-known films. It is just a magnificent beautiful concerto!
Hakon Samuelsen and James Horner.
Abbey Road, Studio 1 where the album will be mixed.
When he scored Iris in 2001, James Horner gave a call to violinist Joshua Bell very late in the game, just prior to the recording sessions, in fact. He specifically did not want the violinist to come in overly prepared. Instead, James Horner wanted him to deliver a spontaneous and unadorned performance, with a minimum of musical sophistication and relying solely on his musical instincts. We can only imagine that this time around, Mr. Horner has gone for the opposite, with lots of technique and virtuosity. Is that true ?
No. It has been a long process over the last few years with many discussions back and forth with his ideas and our impulses. The concerto is not going to be a ’show-off’ when it comes to technique and virtuosity. It will be a very beautiful and much deeper concerto where harmonies are on such high level of beauty that only James Horner can create. In this way, we believe the audience will be drawn into a different world, pure, dreamy and very lyrical.
Will the soli dominate the orchestra or will this be a combination of both?
It will be a combination of both and lines being composed so tight that it should be impossible to divert solos from the organic line. We know this, because we’ve had a couple of workshops with James Horner in London already.
When did the rehearsals start? And are they planned through November, and at what pace? Rehearsals have already started in London. Choir will start in August, orchestra (the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra) in October. The world-premiere week, Nov 10th-16th, will be the most intensive one.
Hakon & Mari, thank you for your availability, your generosity, and kindness.
The world premieres of Pas de Deux will take place on 13 and 14 November 2014 at Liverpool Philharmonic Hall. The orchestra will be conducted by Vasily Petrenko. A concert will be broadcast on UK radio Classic FM. An album edited by a Mercury Classics is scheduled for spring 2015.