Concerto Grosso

1998

For: Wind Orchestra
Solo Fl, Ob, Cl, Bn, Hn, Tpt, Tbn
Wind Orchestra divided into six groups + 2 percussionists
Duration: 10 minutes

Commissioned by the British Association of Symphonic Bands and Wind Ensembles

One can never be sure what the exact instrumentation of a Wind Orchestra is going to be. I didn't want to get round this in the traditional way by doubling all the lines because this creates very bland scoring. I had to find a different way of organising the music and the solution I arrived at was to create a group of solo instruments which would present the main linear material of the piece and to accompany them with 6 other timbrally defined instrumental groups. The accompanying material is also quite easy so that all standards of players can contribute to a performance. To co-ordinate these groups, I have used, for much of the piece, a type of notation where the music is not metered and the solo players are allowed some flexibility in interpreting their lines, other events being cued from them. This makes it possible to simply achieve quite complex textural effects, while still retaining complete control over the material.

The opening 5 note figure with its rhythmic proportions: 2:3:1:4:5 provides the proportions for the 5 subdivisions of the piece each of which is announced by a version of the opening theme. The opening explores textures with melodies gradually emerging. Later the music becomes more contrapuntal, dense and complex. After a hiatus at the end of the fourth section, melodic unity is gradually achieved through an extension of the opening figure.