In 1983, the violinist and violist Mela Tenenbaum met the Ukranian composer Dmitri Klebanov and agreed to play his violin concerto, last performed thirty years previously. The performance inspired the composer to write a new viola concerto for Tenenbaum, an intensely personal work imbued with a lifetime's worth of pain.
On the advice of Igor Blazhokov, Music Director of the chamber orchestra, Perpetuum Mobile, Klebanov confined his instrumentation to 13 players. The reason? When recording for the radio, performers in an ensemble of thirteen of fewer would be paid four times as much as those in larger groups!
The resulting concerto was premiered by Tenenbaum and Perpetuum Mobile in Klebanov's home town of Kharkov. Written with his friend's talents in mind, the composer created a large-scale work, frequently full of rhythmic energy, that explores the viola's unique sonorities. The lyrical Intermezzo is particularly attractive.