"A terrific 18-minute tour de force" The Times
2(=picc).2(II=ca).2.cbcl.2 – 2231 – perc(3): 2 crot/4 timp/susp.cym/2 bongos/2 SD/BD/tuned c.bell – strings(10.8.6.5.3) The parts for cello 5 and double bass 3 can be doubled. All three double basses require low C-strings or extensions
Score 0571542530 on sale, and parts for hire
This Concerto for Orchestra was written in memory of Oliver Knussen, with whom I maintained the closest of friendships for 40 years. His passing in 2018 was widely mourned in the musical world; his extraordinary brilliance as composer and conductor – and kindness and generosity as a person – are irreplaceable.
In some ways this work attempts to conjure a trace of the energy, humour, and spirit I associate with my friend and its mood is often playful, though on occasion it twists into much more turbulent terrain.
The score is also dedicated to – and was written for - the Mahler Chamber Orchestra, an ensemble with whom I have developed a particularly close working relationship. The orchestral writing is frequently virtuosic, and every instrument has its moment in the foreground - hence the title.
During its virtually unbroken 18-minute span, shaped almost entirely within a single tempo, a wide diversity of instrumental invention evolves, interacts, and superimposes. Long, suspended lines weave a path through contrasting textures, some rapid and skittish, others more dynamic and propulsive. All of the instruments play multiple roles – both dramatic and sonoric – across the structure, among them a volatile solo tuba, elaborate horn duos, bubbling clarinets and two pairs of rumbling timpani. Most prominent of all are the impassioned first violins, who almost have the last word during the work’s tranquil conclusion.
G.B. June 2021