The Concertante is unashamedly romantic in idiom and is in three movements: Prelude, Nocturne and Rondo. The Prelude is cast in sonata form and opens with a short cadenza-like flourish from the soloist, followed by two main ideas – the first sweepingly dramatic, the second highly lyrical. The interplay between these two themes forms the main focus of the movement, and after a return to the opening theme, an exuberant codetta brings the music to a close, albeit a quiet one.
Audio sample 1:
The tender Nocturne opens with an introduction from the band that contains precursors of the two main ideas to follow. The solo piano announces the main theme, which has a slightly ‘bluesy’ character with its flattened third and seventh notes of the scale, and is a love song dedicated to the composer’s wife-to-be. The band enters with phrases of a chorale already hinted at in the introduction – Ray Steadman-Allen’s hymn tune ‘Esher’ – but never quite presented in its complete state. Both ideas are developed alongside each other, with eventually the first theme returning, this time with piano and band together, and building to a majestic climax, before subsiding to a peaceful coda – a return to the very opening of the movement.
Audio sample 2:
The final Rondo is full of energetic rhythms and changing time patterns. The main theme is playful in character, with much interplay between soloist and band, whilst the middle section presents a new theme, and one that has more than a hint of the hymn tune ‘Onward Christian Soldiers’, in what amounts to a good humoured parody. The opening Rondo theme returns, this time leading to a powerful and dissonant climax from the band. This is followed by an extended piano cadenza, underlying the virtuoso aspect of the work, and leading to an energetic and life-affirming coda, which brings the work to a triumphant conclusion.
Audio sample 3: