The working process I evolved to compose the guitar concerto, interestingly, had a significant effect on the outcome and final structure of the piece. I initially concentrated on the solo guitar, minutely examining the technical characteristics of the instrument. I explored a large number of musical elements and components, formulating an idiomatic harmonic and melodic language that would eventually connect temporally and permeate the whole sound world of the composition.
In the two short pieces that precede the concerto (in effect the exposition) the soloist explores “fragments” from two contrasting musical paths that are later to provide the structural core of the work. Both of these paths separately develop, transform and accelerate in tempi. However, through a system of metrical modulation these separate developments are splintered and re-connected by juxtaposition, creating a kaleidoscope of constantly varied musical ideas and providing a fluid counterpoint between solo guitar and ensemble. Eventually after an elaborate cadenza the music arrives at a moment of stillness and reflection; a gentle melody and accompaniment in the guitar, “sparsely” underpinned by a reduced ensemble, brings the piece to its conclusion.
The concerto is scored for solo guitar, 2 flutes (+ doublings), English horn, 2 clarinets (+ doublings), trumpet, harp, percussion, string quartet and fretless bass guitar. It is dedicated to the guitarist David Starobin “in friendship and admiration”.
…shapely, intriguing and musically more weighty than its modest proportions suggest…polished, lively performances all round.
First performed by BCMG conducted by HK Gruber at CBSO Centre, Birmingham on 15 November 1998.