the soloist is set apart from the main body of the orchestra (as is the norm) and could be perceived to be an ‘extra limb’ - separate but still connected, or as being ‘out on a limb’ - isolated and exposed. In the performance, rather than enjoying this separation and the focus of attention (as we anticipate a soloist would do), the violist, instead, strives to be fully integrated back into the orchestra (this idea hints at the stereotypical notion of the viola player lacking ego).
At the start of the piece the character of the solo part is strong and unrelenting, exhibiting determination and vigour, as well as anguish and despair at the (involuntary?) role of soloist but, as the piece progresses, the part becomes more and more absorbed into the orchestral texture until, at the climax (marked, ‘Monstrous, triumphant’), it is impossible to separate them, physically or au- rally. The assimilation is misleading, however, as once the massive tutti section subsides a fragile soloist is once again exposed, defeated and resigned, in a final section which is weary, dark and gloomy: an unsuccessful attempt at permanent integration.