The Concerto for Orchestra Op.45 a Feeney trust commission was premiered by the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra under Norman Del Mar in November 1981.
Patterson echoes Bartok’s use of this title to indicate a showcase’ piece for large orchestra. It is possible, too, to hear Batokian traits in the music, though it mostly exhibits the individual hallmarks of Patterson’s new style; the use of tiny melodic cells to generate impetus for the whole movements (an obvious example being the terse motif rapped out by the strings at the opening): the ebullient, no stop rhythmic life pervading the quick movements; and the kaleidoscopic array of orchestral colours presented in the dazzlingly rapid sequence. There are three movements. An allegro vivo contrasts nervous, quick figuration with a striking syncopated idea tossed around the brass sections. The second movement, Lento molto, sets a series of elegiac wind solos against highly atmospheric backgrounds, a bowed vibraphone and high muted strings harmonics being prominent. There is a short but violent climax just before the close. The Presto finale is a scherzo of Rabelaisian wit and vigour, with horn and violin ‘whoops’ and trombone glissandos and quirky woodwind breaks all adding to the fun.
Symphony Orchestra. 3(3 dbl Picc).3.3.3/188.8.131.52/Timp/4Perc/Strings
Commission: Feeney Trust, for the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra
Dedication: ‘To Nicholas and Heather Cleobury’
Publisher: Universal Edition