Alex Weston

Photo by Franky Rousseau

Sandro/Charline:Both (2021)

PRIMAVERA II the rabbits

from the composer

While Charline von Heyl’s “Primavera 2020” is inextricably linked to Sandro Botticelli’s original work, the ways in which they are diametrically opposed are just as crucial, and this dichotomy provided me both with a compositional challenge, as well as a method to approach the work. I first wanted to approach the piece with a lighter, lilting, almost dance-like approach to reflect the energy and vibrancy of the original painting. However, Heyl’s work inverts this energy. It relegates the characters to the dark background, dramatically overlaying the wildlife and other objects that are just details in the Botticelli work. It prefers the red of Venus and Mercury’s cloth to the characters themselves. I tried to represent this as a shifting weight of sorts through the cello motif. The melody anticipates the downbeat to remove the grounding sense of rhythm, and is structured in a series of short, off-weight crescendos that retreat into silence, restarting the phrase with a variation instead of continually growing and developing. The ‘weight’ of the inverse work resets it. As the piece continues, there are brief moments of playfulness, but those are precluded by heavy double stops (or playing two strings simultaneously), which were another technique I used to represent the duality and relationship of the two works of art. There
is a motif used throughout the work of a double stop but both strings are playing the same pitch and then gradually getting further from that unison, as the two works diverge from the same source, the same Roman mythological inspiration. The piece ends with this gesture, a double stop between a pitch played normally and a harmonic, quietly diminuendoing to nothing. I would like to thank The Primavera Project and Matt Haimovitz for inviting me to be a part of this inspiring project.


Alex Weston is a composer of music for concert works and film scores. His film scores have premiered at festivals around the world including Sundance, the Berlinale, the Venice Biennale, Slamdance. His recent effort for Lulu Wang’s The Farewell, which premiered at Sundance 2019 and distributed by A24, was described as “gorgeously scored” by Vanity Fair. The score was included on the shortlist for “Best Original Score” for the 2020 Oscars. He also recently scored a film entitled Wander Darkly by director Tara Miele, released by Lionsgate. Weston’s music has also been featured on The Affair (Showtime), Jane Fonda in Five Acts (HBO), the Ken Burns-produced documentary The Emperor of All Maladies (PBS), and various projects for NBC, Netflix and others. Alex’s concert works include commissions from the Lyrica Chamber Music Ensemble (a concerto for pianist David Kaplan), ABCIrque, the Utah Wind Symphony, MADArt Creative, Ballet in the City, and others. Alex’s music encapsulates his wide-ranging influences, combining classical structures and orchestration along with more modern harmonic language, electronics, and textures.