Double Trouble (2002) by Kurt Rohde
for flute, clarinet, violin, viola, viola, cello, and piano

I. Obsessive Compulsive
II. Double
III. Spazoid

Double Trouble is a chamber concerto for two violas and small ensemble, lasting 17 minutes. The work is scored for two solo violas, flute (doubling piccolo), clarinet in A (doubling bass clarinet), piano, violin, cello. The piece is as much a virtuoso show piece for the ensemble as it is for the two soloists.

Obsessive Compulsive opens the concerto. As is characteristic of my recent music, the movement is thrust along, propulsive and convulsive in nature. The two instruments play a single melodic line that is divided between the two solo players, adding a rhythmic component that would not be possible using only a single player. Throughout, there is a repetitive, regular pulse pattern, which shifts at irregular intervals in the phrase. As for the title, it reflects one of the few obsessive rituals that I practice; composition. The fact that the four minutes of music which are in this movement took over 13 weeks to compose gives an idea of the type of "running in circles" I tend to do when I compose.

Double is a more exotic movement, languorous at times. Loosely based on the Baroque concept, the double is a separate movement or section that is based harmonically on the previous section or movement. Usually in a different tempo and with a different rhythmic scheme, the result is a type of extended variation. In the case of this movement, the soloists weave a melody that is derived from the rapid repeating patterns that they played in the first movement.

The work closes with a fast and furious finale called Spazoid. This movement is rhythmic and harmonic in nature, rather than melodic. It features a number of gestures and technical displays which pay homage to the age old myth that the violist is a "lesser" string player. In this version, however, the music of written out spastic and nearly "out of control" character is in reality extremely virtuosic, requiring tremendous finesse and technical control. It also requires a little humor.

The work was written for the Empyrean Ensemble's 2002-03 concert season, and was composed at my home in San Francisco during the Spring and Summer of 2002. The work is dedicated with fondness to my friend and colleague Ellen Rose, for whom I have the highest regard, respect and admiration.

— K. R.    

[from program for November 3, 2007 concert]