Paul Patterson’s fortieth birthday was celebrated in 1987 with two full-length London concerts – an unusual accolade at such an early stage in a composer’s career, but one which reflects the esteem in which he is held by, already, a whole generation of his students at the Royal Academy of Music, and also his exceptional gift for writing music which is immediately attractive to performers and audiences alike.

Propositions is one of the most recent additions to his already large catalogue of works: it was first performed at the Wigmore Hall in April [1987] by Tommy Reilly and the Academy of St Martin-in-the-Fields Chamber Ensemble.  The solo part reveals how thoroughly Patterson has studied the limitations and possibilities of the harmonica in the hands of a virtuoso player; the accompaniment is for a small string orchestra, written for with equal skill.  The title refers to what the composer calls ‘suggestions and responses, and a teasing interplay between soloist and ensemble’.  The idea is pursued through a short introduction in which the solo line sets out the main thematic ideas of the whole work, a lively quick movement, a slow movement accompanied by muted strings, a scherzo with pizzicato accompaniment, and a whirlwind finale.

Also available in a version for Violin and Strings


Written 1987

String Orchestra + Solo Instrument
Solo Harmonica and Strings
Length 14′

Commission: Academy of St Martin-in-the-Fields Ensemble
Dedication: ‘To Tommy Reilly
Publisher: Universal Edition

First Performance
Wigmore Hall, London, 25th April 1987
Tommy Reilly, harmonica / Academy of St. Martin-in-the-Fields Ensemble

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