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City Hall, Newcastle Stephen Reay / Northern Sinfonia / Wilfred Boettcher
I andante maestoso II con moto
This concerto got off to a precipitate start within minutes of the telephone call from the management of the orchestra commissioning it, (the Northern Sinfonia of England) in the summer of 1984. But it then had to be laid aside for a year, and was mainly written in September-October 1985. There are two movements, the first elegiac and slowish, the second mercurial and lively.
After a brief orchestral introduction the first movement begins by unwinding an enormous expository paragraph in the solo bassoon, punctuated by little figures for the orchestra. These, simply breathing-spaces when first heard, loom larger and larger as the movement continues and eventually make long stretches of music quite distinct from the primary themes, though just as important. The development is concerned with this replacement process; and the whole thing is varied by islands of material different again, notably a more florid paragraph for the soloist at the start of the development and a big climactic orchestral tutti after the recapitulation. A long nostalgic coda calms the movement down and also provides some material for the second; which is a rondo whose episodes – songlike, dramatic, comic – tend to be longer and more developed than the main theme itself.
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