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.

Details

Written 1981

Symphony Orchestra. 3(3 dbl Picc).3.3.3/4.3.3.1/Timp/4Perc/Strings
Length 20

Commission: Feeney Trust, for the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra
Dedication: ‘To Nicholas and Heather Cleobury’
Publisher: Universal Edition

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