Red and Green for big orchestra (2010)

Work commissioned by the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra
WP: 07.04.2011, Cupertino (USA) | Osmo Vänskä (conductor), San Francisco Symphony Orchestra

1st movement
2nd movement

Orchestra instrumentation
4 (3., 4. also piccolo)/4 (4. also english horn)/4 (4. also bass cl. and contrabass cl.)/4 (4. also contrabassoon) – 6/4/4 (alto, tenor, tenor, bass)/1– tmp. – 4 perc. – acc. – p. – harp – 16/14/12/10/8

Programme note
Red and Green refers to the two colours of which cannot be distinguished when you suffer from colour blindness … something I do, but only to a little extent … but it has always been interesting for me to ask myself, how “normal” people would see the world.
Red and Green are two different forms of energy (two movements!) which are indeed different, but have strong links to each other … elements of the one are already existing in the other.
And last but not least red and green represents traffic lights and so the order of our whole urban world … similar to zero and one in the computer world and the computer languages.

Thomas Larcher


There is a “thermodynamic vitality” to Larcher’s music that one does not encounter in other composers. This large ensemble of independent voices serves Larcher’s goals not only in terms of sonority but also in terms of spatial disposition. One does not hear “themes;” but one does hear “concentrated energy centers” that migrate across the stage. Through the management of so many independent voices, those energy centers can migrate not only across sections of the orchestra but also within them.

The result is a highly unique listening experience with a perfectly valid aesthetic of beauty. Last night’s performance was grounded in the concentrated discipline through which these qualities could register effectively. Vänskä had clearly studied this score to a level from which he could coordinate all of the activities it specified, and the Symphony was attentively fixed on his every move as he led them through the two movements of this composition. My only regret was having but one opportunity to experience this stunning music; and, while it is clear that the resource demands for this work are intimidating, I can only hope that another opportunity will arise in the foreseeable future.

Stephen Smoliar,, 10.04.2011