First Concerto for Orchestra, op. 8
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The First Concerto for Orchestra, an ambitious adventure in constructionist modernism, took three years of very different intensity to write:  the tumultuous first movement was drafted in a few days;  the lyric/reflective second followed quite quickly; the elaborate and protracted finale, which combines and extends all the music preceding it, took over two years.  The whole forms an excited critique of the recent Concerto for Orchestra by Tippett where I'd felt, after the marvellous first two movements, that the piecemeal finale, patched together from his King Priam, was a cop-out. 

My own first two movements were given a thrilling public rehearsal under the auspices of the S.P.N.M. by the London Symphony Orchestra in 1971.  The first complete performance, however, (Glasgow 1973) made the ordeal by organ concerto seem like sweetness and fun!  The work's extreme difficulty, its featured trio of saxophones, its ideal rather than realistic notation, and the undoubted over-extension of the finale, took such a toll that it has never been played again.  Recent exposure via a tape of this one-and-only to younger composer friends has persuaded me to try to accept if not love this thing of darkness.  Rebarbative, often downright ugly, it burns with passionate sincerity and an authenticity that cannot be repudiated.  A revized score is in progress: the notation more practical, the finale cut and concentrated, but the original roughness not sweetened or smoothed over in the light of subsequent experience, or aesthetic and stylistic shifts. 

(Further notes about the reworking of this piece occur in the context of the Fifth Concerton for Orchestra, op. 107.)

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