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a media luz
for orchestra


2222 (with doublings) - 4231 - 3perc(ossia 4perc).timp.harp.piano - strings (12,10,8,8,5)



Year of composition:


Commissioned by:

BBC Radio 3


BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra /  conducted by Rumon Gamba,

Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama, Glasgow, 11 February 2000

Published by:

Recorded by:

BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra /  conducted by Rumon Gamba.

Listen on

BBC Sounds

a media luz is a study in colour and embellishment, in which the sound world of chamber music and orchestral sonority interpenetrate each other.  Harmonically, there are sections with a sense of forward motion juxtaposed with areas of tonal stasis. These tonally neutral textures function as a background of ‘lightly tinted silence’, a musical equivalent to those areas of unpainted canvas in Cézanne’s ‘The Winding Road’ (Courtauld Gallery).  Although according to the conventions of the day such a picture would have been considered unfinished, these unmarked areas of primed canvas somehow contribute to the pictorial rhythm in a positive and unique fashion.


The continuously proliferating lines and embellishments heard throughout the piece eventually dissolve into a melody played by a lone violinist.  Its contours carry memories of an Argentinian popular song entitled ‘A media luz’, whose words and gestures evoke the intimacy of dusk and candlelight.  Retrospectively, one may become aware that this song provided the composition with its ‘mode’ and mood.



‘Milstein’s rich and dense orchestral study … is crammed full of darting energy and activity

… a voice of considerable assurance and imagination’


Kenneth Walton, The Scotsman, 14 February 2000



‘the Debussian voluptuousness of Milstein’s work was the most ambitious

on the programme  … There was an overall abundance of colour’


Tom Service, The Guardian, 17 February 2000


‘Possibly the highlight of the programme was Silvina Milstein’s highly poetic a media luz, a work of

half-light, murmurings, muted rustlings and reminiscences that treats the orchestra with post-expressionist expertise.  Milstein intended a work of rich texture in which, by analogy with Cézanne, the canvas showed through.  The resulting balance of static and dynamic was beautifully controlled’

Anthony Payne, The Independent, 18 February 2000

BBC SSO/ conducted by Rumon Gamba/ excerpt: ending

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