This concerto is in four main sections that are played without a break. As with most of my work, the music throughout is generated from the ideas presented in the first few bars, and these ideas and their variants appear freely in the different sections. Recurring material and references to earlier sections are used deliberately to create not only a sense of unity but also an impression of familiarity that aspires to induce a dream-like perception of the passing music, a kind of spiral.
The piece opens with a slow introduction that gradually quickens into the first main section, an allegro. The form of the second section, which is in a lighter mood, is based on an early 13th century verse form, the Sestina, which consists of six stanzas of six lines each, followed by an envoi. The words that end each line in the first stanza are rotated in a strictly prescribed pattern* to give the line-endings of the remaining stanzas; in this adaptation, each “line” consists of four bars, and the repetitions ensue according to the plan. The intricate repetition inherent in this form can also be seen as a form of spiral. The third section is an extended slow movement interrupted by a quicker episode that refers to the first section. Generally lighter and in a similar vein to the second section, the final section includes a reference to the slow movement before returning to the lighter music that ends the piece.
This work is dedicated to Natalie Clein.
Concerto for Cello & Orchestra was completed in March 2015 and lasts approximately 25 minutes.
* The pattern is as below, with each number representing the final word of each line. I have adapted the form so that each ‘line’ is four bars long, with the fourth bar taken as equivalent to the line ending.