Length: 16 min.
Completion: 1997-12-24, Winnipeg
Premiere: 1999-12-08, Manitoba Chamber Orchestra, Simon Streatfeild (cond.)
Robert Turner’s final composition was commissioned by the CBC for performance by the Manitoba Chamber Orchestra (MCO) in its 1999-2000 Season. The premiere took place at Westminster United Church on 8 December 1999, with the MCO conducted by its music director, Simon Streafeild.
The work was dedicated to the memory of Robert Turner`s friend and long-time colleague, Professor Leonard Isaacs (1909-1997), who died on 6 December 1997. It was Leonard Isaacs who had hired Dr. Turner to begin teaching at the School of Music at the University of Manitoba in the fall of 1969. The title page of the score includes for the first and only time the composer’s complete name – Robert Comrie Turner.
In his program note Dr. Turner wrote: “The title may be translated as ‘Memorable diversions’ or ‘Amusing reminiscences’. Since the form of the work resembles a miniature classical symphony (Mozart being my favourite composer), the first movement is in abbreviated sonata form. The second in waltz tempo (“Dance of the Disenchanted”) is an expanded version of incidental music composed for a CBC radio play in 1959 [A Question of Principle, RTC-15] . The opening notes for strings in the slow movement are derived from the letters of my three names. The final rondo concludes with a melody (played by the clarinet) from a popular song, written when I was fourteen – my very first effort at composition! The tonalities of the four movements outline the notes of a diminished seventh chord (F-sharp, A, C, E-flat); the scoring is for four woodwinds, horn, harp and strings. As this will be my last composition (pending the performance of my second opera, Vile Shadows, 1982-86 – the only major work I have not heard) it is a musical evocation of personal experiences, thoughts, people, travels, music, art, books, successes and failures, etc. encountered in over fifty years of creative work.”
Manishen, James, Review: “Streatfeild exits MCO podium on a high note,” Winnipeg Free Press, 10 December 1999.
“”Winnipeg composers Robert Turner was on hand to introduce the premiere of his Diverti-Memento for chamber orchestra, his final composition he said, after a 50-plus year career. One strains to think of any work of Turner’s which isn’t distinguished by impeccable craft. His new score is a delight, a genial mini-symphony ripe with deft touches yet with enough emotional clout to make it more than just an irreverent pastiche. The MCO’s reading was exemplary. “