• Hugh Wood
  • Chamber Concerto (1971)

  • Chester Music Ltd (World)

Commissioned by the London Sinfonietta

  • 2(2pic:afl)12(bcl)1/1111/hp/pf(cel)/3perc/str(
  • 28 min

Programme Note

The piece is scored for harp and piano, three percussion players, four brass, five string, and six wind players. It is a chamber concerto in the sense that it sets out to display each group of instruments in the chamber orchestra, tries to create new cross-groupings, and also attempts to give most instruments some individual solo work, however brief.

The first movement certainly depends on the display of each group in turn - with percussion interventions between each (like the bread in a club sandwich). Woodwind and horn start on a single note: then follow sections featuring solo playing by strings: woodwind: brass. Each section is longer than its predecessor and in many other respects too this movement is best thought of as wedge-shaped. Then chords thrown from each group - save percussion - to the other lead to a prolonged climatic chord and an explosion, which ends the movement.

The second movement (attacca with first movement) was designed as a series of cadenzas and trios. In its present form, it consists of: Cadenza for double bass, Trio for bass-clarinet, double-bass and harp.

Interlude (second or muted brass melting intostring phrase): Cadenza for flute, Trio for flute, alto flute and the clarinet. The second Interlude leads (for the time being) into the next movement.

The slow movement is an elegy in memory of Roberto Gerhard. This small tribute is built not only out of quoted themes, but it also tries to reproduce some characteristic harmony and instrumentation of the master.

The Finale is a sort of Rondo. The first three sections all recur: the glissando fanfare, the monodically presented leaping theme, the ‘tapping’ section. Next time round, they are joined by a chorale (woodwind, percussion): the leaping theme is then heard differently treated on a piano, horn and xylophone. Eventually, with a prominent entrance of the trombone, the final section begins. Each time the trombone enters, the woodwind makes a chorale-like response. The brass is prominent in the expanding ostinato - more static than anything hitherto - which ends the piece.

© Hugh Wood


Preview the score