- piano and strings
- Solo Instrument(s) with Ensemble
Commissioned by Dartington International Summer School for Helen Reid in 2010
- First Performance
- 11.8.10, Dartington International Summer School: Helen Reid/Trinity College of Music String Ensemble/Nic Pendlebury
Score and parts for hire
- Programme Notes
1. Con moto moderato
2. Tango: Tempo di tango energico
3. Elegy: Largo e mesto
4. Allegro con spirito
I have always been rather daunted by the idea of writing a piano concerto, but when Gavin Henderson suggested a relatively modest concerto for piano and strings for Helen Reid to play at the Dartington International Summer School in 2009, I found the idea both possible and attractive. In my piece I have avoided the rhetoric and grand scale of the nineteenth-century concerto; my piano-writing is more Mozartian in conception. There are, moreover, no big cadenzas.
The first movement is the largest of the four: it is loosely in sonata form, with contrasting first and second subjects, which at their recapitulation are heard in combination. The second movement is a tango, one of a number I have written in the past 25 years. The tango seems to me to be an ideal substitute for the Classical minuet: a contemporary dance-form with infectious rhythms, capable of much subtle variation. The third movement, a slow blues called 'Elegy', was written in memory of Sue Skempton, who died in October 2008 – she was the wife of my composer friend Howard Skempton. The finale, by contrast, is deliberately light-hearted, and its second theme is a deliberate attempt at composing a 'big tune' (though it isn’t big in scale) of a kind thought essential in some of the most popular concertos of the past, not without good reason.