David Stock, an American composer and conductor, is known for his dedication to composing and performing “new music.” His compositions go between challenging listeners as well as not being confined to contemporary music ideals. As a composer, he was influenced by Stravinsky, Hebrew liturgy, and jazz that can be heard in his compositions. His musical style is said to be “well-defined, with clear shapes, driving rhythms, and bright colors and timbres” (Levin, www.milkenarchive.org). Stock’s piece Violin Concerto has all of these elements.
Stock’s Violin Concerto was written for violinist Andres Cardenes who premiered the piece with the Sinfonia Varsovia. The piece has within it all the elements of contemporary music as well as Stock’s own personal style. The piece starts off with a very percussive rhythm with the whole orchestra (0:00-0:06) then the oboes and English horn come in with a very staccato musical motive while the orchestra continues with its percussive line. Percussive rhythms are one of the musical traits of post-modern era compositions and Violin Concerto has lots of this. The staccato motive travels between multiple instruments (horns, brass, etc.) then finally the solo violin comes in (0:45). The solo violin enters with a very driving and complex rhythm, which is one of Stock’s musical traits. The solo violin gives off a feeling of intensity with the use of chromatic runs, fast rhythms, and dynamic changes. This last movement of the Violin Concerto is called “Perpetual Motion: With Great Energy” and that is exactly what the listener hears and feels. The whole last movement has a certain drive to it within the orchestra as well as with the solo violin and the whole piece has a feeling of high energy. Stock strived to convey feelings to the audience in his compositions and this concerto definitely hits the mark.
Comparing Stock’s Violin Concerto to another piece of this time frame, John Adams’ solo piano piece China Gates, one can hear many differences. Stock’s Violin Concerto is very intense with fast rhythms and percussive sounds in the orchestra while China Gates is a very peaceful work with a minor feel. In both pieces, there is a feeling of no harmonic direction – one does not know if the work is going to a cadence or not. Both pieces us chromatic runs and motives. China Gates goes between major and minor modes while Violin Concerto pretty much stays in a minor or atonal center. Stock’s composition is has a more intense feel and strays away somewhat from contemporary composition ideals while Adams’ is less intense and definitely sounds like a contemporary composition.
I had never heard of David Stock before this research. His Violin Concerto was intense to listen to, but in the end I did enjoy it compared to other post-modern pieces. It was interesting to see all that he has accomplished as well as listen to some of his other works. I don’t know if I would listen to his compositions again, but it was good to be exposed to new forms of music!
Levin, Neil. David Stock. “Milken Archive of Jewish Music.” 2014 Milken Archive. Accessed May 2, 2014. http://www.milkenarchive.org/people/view/all/581/David+Stock
Hurwitz, David. Barber/Stock/Copland: Violin Concertos. “Classics Today.” 1999-2012 Classics Today. Accessed May 2, 2014. http://www.classicstoday.com/review/review-16230/
“David Stock: Violin Concerto: Final Movement.” Youtube Video. Posted by “Albany RecordsUSA.” Uploaded April 26, 2010. Accessed May 2, 2014. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cfQBtRXzUus
“China Gates – John Adams.” Youtube Video. Posted by “Fraser Graham.” Uploaded November 9, 2009. Accessed May 2, 2014. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sV0JFg0xlF0