Lento for Strings

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Lento for Strings is an orchestral work by the Australian composer Malcolm Williamson.

History of the work

The brief but eloquent Lento for Strings was written in 1985, while the composer was in Australia. The work was commissioned by the Royal Melbourne Philharmonic, who premièred it in the autumn of that year in Melbourne, and Williamson chose to dedicate the piece to a longtime friend and champion, Paul McDermott. McDermott was held in particularly high regard by Williamson, especially as it was he who had successfully conducted his Symphony No. 6: Liturgy of Homage a few years before.[1][2]


Firmly rooted in the key of F major, the stately theme is first played by the violins. After a short development section, the key changes to the relative major (D major, in this case)[clarification needed] in a grand restatement of the original theme. The music returns to the opening key for the coda, where echoes of the theme are heard in the violas, with the slight harmonic alteration of the flatted sixth of the scale (D flat, in this case), a colouration which adds a certain poignancy to the final bars.[3][failed verification]


The Lento is scored for orchestral strings only, playing divisi most of the time.


There are currently three recordings of the Lento available commercially. These are:


  1. ^ Foreman 2007, p. 10
  2. ^ Harris & Meredith, p. 411
  3. ^ Foreman 2007, p. 11
  • Foreman, Lewis (2007). Williamson: Orchestral Works Vol. 2 (PDF) (CD). Chandos Records. CHAN 10406. Archived from the original (PDF) on 23 September 2015. Retrieved 10 December 2017.
  • Harris & Meredith.[full citation needed].

External links

  • France, John (2014-10-29). "Malcolm Williamson: Lento for strings". British Classical Music: The Land of Lost Content (blog).
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