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Pavel Zemek Novák Unisono (Homage to the Bach Family) (2010)

For violin, viola, cello, double bass and piano

5 minutes


  1. Unisono I (after W.F. Bach)

  2. Unisono II (after C.P.E. Bach)

  3. Unisono III (after J.C. Bach)

  4. Unisono IV (after J.C.F. Bach)

  5. Unisono V (after C.P.E. Bach and J.S. Bach)


This work was written in response to a request by the Schubert Ensemble for a companion piece to an arrangement of five Bach Chorales that John Woolrich wrote for the Ensemble in 2000. It is the second quintet for violin, viola, cello, double bass and piano that Pavel Novák has written for the Schubert Ensemble. In contrast to the first (Funeral Procession on Iona, written in 1995), the composer has in this work adopted a neoclassical style, taking melodic and harmonic material from pieces by members of the Bach family and transforming it, changing only the rhythm, texture and instrumentation. The composer states that he has written the work as a tribute to the unity, both artistic and personal, of the Schubert Ensemble itself. This unity is expressed in the cycle of pieces by two techniques that are characteristic of the composer and that he has explored in many other recent works. Firstly, Pavel Novák uses unison writing throughout, which removes all kinds of dissonance. Secondly, all five pieces employ only pizzicato playing by the strings, which brings a unity of colour to the cycle.


Unisono was commissioned by the Schubert Ensemble with the help of the Schubert Ensemble Trust and is dedicated to the Ensemble. It was first performed by the Schubert Ensemble at the Newbury Spring Festival on 11th May 2011.

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