When I was asked to write a concert opener for the opening night of the Carnegie Hall season, which is obviously a special occasion, I looked to see what else would be on the concert. The program would end with Ravel’s Daphnis and Chloé Suite No. 2, so I explored what I could do to connect my piece with that score, which I love so much. I’ve spent so much time with Daphnis, and it includes a particular sequence of chords that is one of my true favorites, near the end of the Danse générale — G, E, C-sharp in the bass line, so Ravellian. It is almost as sophisticated as Ravel’s harmony ever got. I don’t quote it literally, but I almost do. Vivo is definitely linked to Daphnis and Chloé.
Since it is a short piece, I am much more constrained to keep it in very tight focus, more than I would be with a longer piece. I needed to establish immediately exactly what it is about. Using a limited palette of instrumental color, immediately I set up a contrast between a couple of different characters. They work together, but with the faster bit always prominent. This is a work for a standard big Romantic orchestra, though with four percussionists, but the colors are often grouped in instrumental families. I hope the title speaks for itself: It is a lively piece with a quite direct character.
Excerpted from the program note written for the New York Philharmonic by James M. Keller, Program Annotator.
"...as an overture Vivo is an exhilarating tease..."
New York Times