"It is music of staggering invention, but without any bombast and without any showing off, just like the composer himself" The Arts Desk (Gavin Dixon), 31 August 2021
The full score of George Benjamin’s critically acclaimed Concerto for Orchestra is now available for purchase. The 2021 piece received its world premiere at the BBC Proms from the Mahler Chamber Orchestra, conducted by the composer. It was commissioned by the Mahler Chamber Orchestra, supported by the Ernst von Siemens Music Foundation and the Karolina Blaberg Foundation, and BBC Radio 3. Watch Benjamin conduct the Philharmonique de Radio France in the Concerto for Orchestra here.
It is dedicated to the memory of Oliver Knussen; Benjamin has said that the piece attempts “to conjure a trace of the energy, humour, and spirit” of the composer. It is varied and dynamic across its unbroken 17-minute span – skittish lines play against still, suspended ones – and full of star turns for its various instrumental protagonists. This new score is 245mm x 345mm, close to B4 size, and suitable for study and performance.
'It is everything we have come to expect from Benjamin, music that has much to say but never wastes its breath... the ideas building on each other, dying out, forming afresh, and yet the atmosphere is palpably threatening, with ominous low brass, fearfully scampering strings and climaxes that build to peaks of tension. Through a glass darkly we glimpse the same worlds as Benjamin’s two full-length operas'
Financial Times (Richard Fairman), 31 August 2021
'Brilliant solos from around the orchestra constantly breaking through the intricately detailed textures, it certainly justifies the description of “concerto”, but there are moments of quieter reflection that interrupt the hectic virtuoso activity, too, when the extended string lines that thread their way through the work take centre stage, and articulate the single-movement form'
The Guardian (Andrew Clements), 31 August 2021
'As with everything Benjamin writes, the concerto gleams, all the sonic ingredients individuated, clarity and intricate detail turning every player into a soloist. In this composer’s music it’s as if every bar, every idea, is an essence of the whole: an atom, more like the smallest in a set of Russian dolls. Dancing through the concerto’s buoyant, conversational exchange, dominating all, is the tuba… After a gnarly orchestral climax, the tuba plays a long, triple fortissimo low note, then falls silent, leaving the rest of the ensemble, spare and ethereal, to spin into the ether, crotales ringing out softly'
The Observer (Fiona Maddocks), 4 September 2021