Primavera Doubles (2000) was commissioned by the Baldwin Wallace Conservatory of Music for violinist Julian Ross, cellist Regina Mushabac, and the Conservatory Orchestra, conducted by Dwight Oltman. This Double Concerto features a pair of soloists, but there are other “doubles”as well: each of the three movements is a double-movement; reflections of material using variation and imitation populate the work; and two-voice writing is abundant — the most obvious example being “Echo la Primavera,” a two-voice madrigal by 14th-century Italian composer Francesco Landini, which haunts the piece, appearing in various guises and finally providing the work’s conclusion.
First Doubles: Suggestions and Sauntersongs begins with a double cadenza that is introduced and interrupted by a unison tutti motto rhythm which will re-appear obsessively in the last movement. The cadenza fades to a glimmer of disembodied Landini and then to the Sauntersongs, presented over a trundling passacaglia bass.
Second Doubles: Scherzos and Sombersongs breaks in with a rough, turbulent tutti acting as a foil to another lighter scherzo, which pits the pair of string soloists against a pair of drummers. The ensuing Sombersongs similarly alternate dark, brooding phrases (tuba solo answered by cello) with a high, bright version of the Landini (violin and glockenspiel, echoed by flutes). Other soulful and eventually radiant dialogues follow, closed by a ghostly return of the “pairs” scherzo.
Third Doubles: Swaggersong and Saltarello reverses the shape of the other movements, beginning with a heavily charactered folk-song which accelerates into a swirling dance. At the end, the opening cadenza returns, but this time it leads to a culminating invocation of Landini’s “Primavera” madrigal.