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979-0-57036-013-0 a2 for violin and cello – Score Available at MusicRoom Buy now (£13.00)
a2 for violin and cello – Score and part Available at MusicRoom Buy now (£26.00)


Dedicated to Peter Sheppard Skaerved and Neil Heyde.

This music was composed during my DAAD residency in Berlin in October - November 2007. If I were to describe it in one sentence, I would say that it is based on the idea of 'two things seen/heard as one'. "a2 (a due) is a well-known term to musicians; it is often found in orchestral scores indicating a given passage that is to be played by two instruments of the same family. Although violin and cello could well be regarded as 'first cousins' of the string family, the literal implementation of the term a2 as a 'compositional strategy' would have been too much (!) for a piece of chamber music consisting of no more than two players. Not surprisingly, this never happens in this work; in fact, the opposite is true: regardless of how it appears on paper (i.e. on one or two staves), the music for each instrument is constantly based on two layers. "This musical 'interpretation' of the title gives an indication as to how the textural format of the piece operates. However, this was by no means the only thought that 'preoccupied' my mind whilst composing this music. Berlin made a profound impression on me. The remnants of the wall in Bernauer Strasse and the cobbled two-stone line tracing the wall across where it once stood - a clear reminder of what not so long ago there were two different worlds in one city - provoked a strikingly dramatic effect. Border, death-strip, killing, and escape to freedom had a particularly evocative resonance, especially of the time when I lived for three years in a remote town in Southern Albania right at the border with Greece. There, there was a nameless road whose destination the authorities did not want you to know, but the locals called it the 'death-road'. "In no way programmatic, in this context, the extra-musical dimension of the principal idea is very much part of the piece. Here, the musical and extra-musical interpretations cannot easily be separated, for they are two parts of the same thing: a2. "As if to add another dimension to this idea, there are two versions of this piece: for viola & cello and violin & cello. The first version was premièred by Garth Knox and Rohan de Saram at the 2008 Intrasonus Festival in Venice.

© Thomas Simaku


10 minutes

Garth Knox and Rohan de Saram at the 2008 Intrasonus Festival in Venice.

1 Violin, 1 Violoncello
Composition date


17 April 2024 Sir Jack Lyons Concert Hall, University of York, York, YO10 5DD

Ensemble intercontemporain at York Concerts:

Martin Adámek (clarinet), Jeanne-Marie Conquer (violin), Renaud Déjardin (cello), Dimitri Vassilakis (piano)

28 September 2012

Pharos International Festival, Nicosia, Cyprus

El Perro Andaluz

20 September 2012

Wechselbad Theater, Dresden

El Perro Andaluz members Emily Yabe (violin), Jakob Andert (cello) 

9 May 2012

York Spring Festival of New Music, Sir Jack Lyons Concert Hall

El Perro Andaluz Ensemble

16 September 2011

3rd International Contemporary Music Festival, Nicosia, Cyprus

Moscow Contemporary Music Ensemble

20 October 2009

Sir Jack Lyons Concert Hall, University of York

Peter Sheppard Skaerved (violin) Neil Heyde (cello)

26 August 2009

International Contemporary Music Festival, Nicosia, Cyprus

Peter Sheppard Skaerved (violin), Bridget Macrae (cello)

22 March 2009

Wilton's Music Hall, London

Peter Sheppard Skaerved (violin), Neil Heyde (cello)