The Concertante for Piano and Brass Band was written in 1966, when the composer was an undergraduate student at the Royal Academy of Music in London. It received its first public concert performance in 1967 at the Royal Festival Hall, London, when the composer was the soloist with the International Band of the Salvation Army, conducted by Bernard Adams. It was one of the first major works to be written for this particular combination.
The Concertante is unashamedly romantic in idiom and is in three movements: Prelude, Nocturne and Rondo. The Prelude is cast in sonata form and opens with a short cadenza-like flourish from the soloist, followed by two main ideas – the first sweepingly dramatic, the second highly lyrical. The interplay between these two themes forms the main focus of the movement, and after a return to the opening theme, an exuberant codetta brings the music to a close, albeit a quiet one.
The tender Nocturne opens with an introduction from the band that contains precursors of the two main ideas to follow. The solo piano announces the main theme, which has a slightly ‘bluesy’ character with its flattened third and seventh notes of the scale, and is a love song dedicated to the composer’s wife-to-be. The band enters with phrases of a chorale already hinted at in the introduction – Ray Steadman-Allen’s hymn tune ‘Esher’ – but never quite presented in its complete state. Both ideas are developed alongside each other, with eventually the first theme returning, this time with piano and band together, and building to a majestic climax, before subsiding to a peaceful coda – a return to the very opening of the movement.
The final Rondo is full of energetic rhythms and changing time patterns. The main theme is playful in character, with much interplay between soloist and band, whilst the middle section presents a new theme, and one that has more than a hint of the hymn tune ‘Onward Christian Soldiers’, in what amounts to a good humoured parody. The opening Rondo theme returns, this time leading to a powerful and dissonant climax from the band. This is followed by an extended piano cadenza, underlying the virtuoso aspect of the work, and leading to an energetic and life-affirming coda, which brings the work to a triumphant conclusion.
Duration: 18 minutes
Please note that there is no 1st/Repiano Cornet part in this work. The 1st/Repiano Cornet player should join the Solo Cornet bench. As such an extra Solo Cornet part is provided in the set of parts.
Version for two pianos
A version of the Concertante for two pianos is available for rehearsal purposes. Piano 1 is the solo part and Piano 2 the band reduction. However, for those pianists not needing to rehearse the work in this way, a solo piano part is also provided with the main set of band parts.
To view a preview of the solo part for the first movement click here.
The youthful Gregson (his work was written as a third year undergraduate) was seemingly a bit of a musical magpie – but one heck of a skilful one at that. These were shiny baubles of poise, panache and pastiche, with affectionate, remarkably mature nods of appreciation towards Gershwin, Rachmaninov, Ireland and even Elmer as well as Leonard Bernstein.The rich colour palette and flowing lines (with the tenderest of central Nocturnes) were a joy – as were the little buds of motifs that dotted the score like seeds ready to be planted on a future fertile brass band compositional field. – Iwan Fox, 4Barsrest.com, June 2019
For more information on Edward Gregson’s music please visit the composer’s website: www.edwardgregson.com