Repertoire Search

Hugh Wood

Publisher: Chester Music

Violin Concerto No. 2 (2004)
This work was commissioned by the Milton Keynes City Orchestra. Milton Keynes City Orchestra gratefully acknowledges financial support from the PRS Foundation and Milton Keynes Partnership. First performance on 23rd January 2009 at Milton Keynes Theatre, by Alexandra Wood (violin) and Milton Keynes City Orchestra conducted by Sian Edwards.
Publisher
Chester Music Ltd
Category
Soloist(s) and Orchestra
Year Composed
2004
Duration
25 Minutes
Solo Instrument(s)
Violin


Buy this work
Worldwide Sales   North American Sales
 
Reduced Score   
Study Score   

Programme Note
Hugh Wood Violin Concerto No. 2 (2004)
I ~ Allegro appassionata e energico
II ~ Larghetto, calmo
III ~ Vivacissimo

I taught Alexandra Wood at Cambridge and also heard her play there- both leading her own quartet and playing concertos. When she moved to London she formed a duo with Huw Watkins and in January 2001 they programmed my violin and piano piece, Poem, and have given magnificent performances of it on many subsequent occasions. On hearing them perform the work at the Brighton Festival later the same year, I resolved to write a concerto for Alexandra. The first sketches were made in August 2002, after which I wrote to tell her of my plans.

As always with me, progress was slow, but I got as far as a fair copy of the last movement in short score by April 2003. I tackled the finale next – in the autumn of 2003 and then (after breaking off to write several smaller pieces) to complete it in August 2004. The slow movement was written last in September and October of 2004.

It was with great gladness that I greeted the recent generous offer of Sian Edwards to take up the piece: and I am equally grateful to the management of the Milton Keynes City Orchestra for making this performance possible.

In a way, the delay of the premiere has been a blessing in disguise, for one never stops learning. When I came earlier this year to look at the piece before preparing a fair copy of the full score, I found that much revision was necessary. Cuts never did anyone any harm, and I found myself trimming some of the later pages of the first movement, and completely re-writing both the beginning and central part of the slow movement. But it was the huge unwieldy finale which fell most heavily under the reviser’s scythe. From 425 bars down to 291 is quite a major piece of pruning, and many of the weaker or more repetitive pages were to be trampled underfoot: they will not be missed.

In the first movement the soloist charges in at once and reaches higher and higher, floating upwards, before giving way to the orchestra. The new theme is to be heard much throughout the movement, but the orchestra is interrupted in its turn by the first two cadenzas. As the first one subsides the new theme initiates a contrasting section of lightly dancing rhythms. Fanfare-like figures on the brass and a vivid change of harmony then bring the soloist back, who swoops down from the highest register with a theme which could be labelled ‘second subject’. After a long lyrical section with the music tenses up for an orchestral presentation of the second subject maestoso before the second of the cadenzas, the longer of the two. In the return much familiar material comes back, but all of it is both transformed and truncated. The second subject makes a final transfigured appearance on the solo violin before a suddenly brisk ending.

After a short introduction, the soloist introduces both the main themes of the slow movement, the first in the high register, the second in the lowest one. Against a rippling accompaniment on the orchestra the first theme is then heard again before the orchestra breaks in with a tempestuous central section. The soloist re-enters with a cadenza-like passage leading to the second theme – but this time heard on the horn, and then taken over by the cor anglais. A last fortissimo gesture gives way to an epilogue in which the first theme is heard on woodwind with the soloist floating upward in semiquavers.

The finale has some characterisations of a rondo, but after substantial return of the opening theme a subsidiary section takes over in fast waltz time with a slightly Spanish tinge (Alexandra is good at Sarasate.) After the movement’s climax there is a clear return with the first theme at its original pitch and tempo. There are briefer versions of other themes we have heard before followed by a long coda. Four cellos play the first leg of its (again rather Spanish) tune. Four horns take it over: then all the violins. The woodwind and later the soloist have so far only been contributing comments to all this: now the soloist takes over the coda theme in a climactic way. The tempo quickens for fanfares on the trumpets responded to by the xylophone: other brass are added to the trumpets as they lead to a triumphant ending.

© Hugh Wood, 2008


Score preview:


Performances
Date
Title
  • 23 MAR 2012
    Barbican, London
    BBC Symphony Orchestra
    Anthony Marwood; Sir Andrew Davis, conductor
  • 23 MAR 2012
    Violin Concerto No. 2 London Premiere
    Barbican, London
    BBC Symphony Orchestra
    Anthony Marwood (violin) ; Sir Andrew Davis, conductor
  • 23 JAN 2009
    Violin Concerto No. 2 World Premiere
    Milton Keynes Theatre
    Milton Keynes City Orchestra
    Alexandra Wood, violin; Sian Edwards, conductor

Reviews
Both the craft and lyricism seemed to arise out of a deep empathy with the Violin Concerto by Berg. [...] Like Berg's, his idiom is 12-tone with tonal impulses, but while the absorption of the model into the warp and woof of the texture is a remarkable act of creative conservatism, the writing has a clarity and terseness that look rather, and still more conservatively, to that native concerto composer Walton.
Paul Driver, The Sunday Times,4/1/2012
Its expressively charged solo lines and tense thematic working, not to mention some of the musical material itself, often seem like a homage to Berg… accomplished.
Andrew Clements, Guardian,3/25/2012
A likeable and elegantly crafted three-movement, 25-minute work [...] The finale displays humour and a light touch, very appealing, Wood (in his 80th-birthday year) not afraid to show himself as an English composer.
Colin Anderson, www.classicalsource.com,3/23/2012
Close X

Newsletter Signup

Please fill in this form to receive regular news




Click here to receive regular news
© Copyright 2014 Music Sales Classical. Part of the Music Sales Group.