• John McCabe
  • Concerto for Piano and Wind Quintet (1969)

  • Novello & Co Ltd (World)

Commissioned by the Birmingham Chamber Concerts Society

  • 1111/1000
  • Piano
  • 20 min

Programme Note

Maestoso - Allegro deciso - Maestoso - Lento - Vivo - Lento - Allegro marcato - Maestoso

This work was commissioned by the Birmingham Chamber Music Society and first performed by the composer with the Venturi Ensemble in February 1970. It is in five movements, played without a break and preceded by a Maestoso which introduces the main melodic material of the work, most of the themes and harmonies being largely derived from this opening section. The movements that follow the introduction contain an element of display that led me to call the work Concerto.

The first movement proper is a fast rondo, with much changing of time-signatures and decoration of the main subject group. It is linked by a horn cadenza to the second movement, which is slow, reflective in feeling, and dominated by two closely-related bassoon tunes. A clarinet cadenza (varying the material from the earlier one for horn) links this to the third movement, a scherzo of very light, scurrying textures and generally subdued dynamics, though there is a more emphatic central section.

This scherzo is a sort of rondo, with the piano's main subject expanded further on each appearance, and so also is the finale, combining rondo form with a kind of fugue in which the theme is varied on each entry. Between the scherzo and finale there is a short slow movement for the wind quintet alone. At the end of the finale, the work's opening flourish returns to close the piece in a mood of defiance.

© 1995 John McCabe