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  • DiphononDuo

Composer Lewis Murphy talks about his new piece commisioned for Diphonon Duo

Updated: Feb 5, 2019

"I first became aware of the Diphonon Duo back in 2017, when I collaborated with Iñigo on the accordion part for my youth opera, Belongings, which was performed at Glyndebourne in November of that year. This was also my first experience writing for the accordion – an instrument which, like the guitar, can be quite terrifying for the fledging composer. There is so much more to writing for this instrument than simply understanding it's pitch and dynamic range – it is important to research how the instrument works, including the different bass (left hand) systems and how the variety of reed combinations affect the sound. I think it is probably a very good idea to write for specific players, if possible, so that he/she can advise on exactly how to approach writing for their instrument. Nevertheless, it is a beautiful, unique sound, and ever since hearing it paired with that of the viola, at a recital by the Diphonon Duo at Wigmore Hall in early 2018, I have been itching to write for this extraordinary group.

For me, the combination of viola and accordion is most exciting because it offers the composer an opportunity to create total synthesis between a melodic instrument and a harmonic instrument in a way that isn't possible with the more traditional pairing of viola and piano. A note played on the piano will begin to decay as soon as hammer strikes string, whereas both violist and accordionist have complete control over their sound from beginning to end; they can grow and breathe together, shaping their phrases with perfect synchrony. This idea is central to the music that I wrote for Breathing Space, which was commissioned by the Diphonon Duo for their upcoming recital at Wigmore Hall on Tuesday 12th February (6:15pm). The viola and accordion are very much equal partners in this piece, working together to spin an organic texture that is occasionally interrupted by short 'breaths'. The spaces that these interruptions create are very important, since they allude to the main idea behind this work: Breathing Space is inspired primarily by the theme of the recital in which it will have its first performance – 'Home' – and what that means to me, that is, somewhere free from anxiety, where one can apply the brakes and escape the stress of the world;"

The comission the new work was kindly supported by Anna Weeks and the Arts Council.

Link to composer's website:


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