If Davies's Cello Concerto has already evoked comparisons with Elgar's, that is perhaps an indication not only of its wealth of solo melody (there is hardly a page where the cello is not singing, or if not that, then dancing), and of its predominantly slow tempos, but also of its musical stature. This second Strathclyde concerto is a virtuoso piece for the entire ensemble, which is used almost throughout as a clutch of soloists rather than as a tutti block. The general tone is one of passionate but interior dialogue, especially in the opening Moderato and the slow movement; and though the finale is more extrovert, the work ends back in quietness and rumination.
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The CELLLO CONCERTO has three movements – moderato, lento and allegro moderato. It exploits the singing expressive qualities of the cello, always bearing in mind William Conway’s sound, and throughout the soloist has dialogues with, or is supported by, the orchestra – there is no “confrontation” as in big Romantic concertos, unless it is in the dramatic interjections of the orchestra during the first movement’s closing cadenza.
The second movement, mostly very dark in colour and lyrical, has a short reflective cadenza towards the end, and in the finale, initially extrovert, risks an ending which is slow, quiet and inward – I thought this more in keeping with the work’s essential nature that a more obvious concerto close.
STRATHCLYDE CONCERTO NO 2 for CELLO AND ORCHESTRA has been commissioned by the Strathclyde Regional Council and the Scottish Chamber Orchestra with funds jointly provided by the Strathclyde Region and the Scottish Arts Council. This is the second in a series of ten concerti that Sir Peter (Associate Composer/Conductor of the SCO) is writing for the orchestra, sponsored by the Strathclyde Region.
The SCO gave the first performance conducted by the composer on 1 February 1989 at the City Hall, Glasgow.
© Peter Maxwell Davies