The Double Concerto was commissioned by the BBC for the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra to perform at the International Cello Festival in Manchester on 30 April 1992, with soloists Ralph Kirshbaum and Gregor Horsch, and conductor Raymond Leppard.
Achieving the right balance between soloist(s) and orchestra is one of the biggest problems of writing concertos, in particular those with lower solo, instruments. For this double concerto I have tried to create the proper balance before I started work on it, I had in mind a soft glittering, sometimes autumnal sound, so I chose the homogeneity of a large ensemble, leaving out the bassoons and the more dominating brass instruments. I tried to maintain the substantial character of the big 'romantic' orchestra, while avoiding its dominating strength.
The orchestration is: 4 flutes, 2 oboes, english horn, Eb clarinet, 2 clarinets, bass clarinet, 4 horns, timpani, 3 percussion, harp, piano & strings.
Although my music is largely athematic, (most of my pieces are traditional in shape, but not in content) I tried for the first time to compose an opening movement using groups of themes. In a way, the first movement is a reflection of sonata form. I tried to compose sonata form in the way that I had experienced it during the countless hours I taught analysis at the conservatory, In my opinion this form is more a way of thinking, of tonality, of gestures, rather than a strict scheme.
In general the form of this piece is simple: a traditional three-movement concerto without breaks. The first movement develops itself in a constant alternating of the basic tempo (crotchet = 66) and a doppio movimento (crotchet = 132).
The second movement opens with a long, serene oboe solo, the basic material for the recitatives of the two solo cellos.
The third and final movement is a kind of scherzo, combined with a recapitulation of the second subject of the opening movement. A short coda, based on a transitional episode from the first movement, concludes the work.
@ Tristan Keuris