Movement 1: Allegro con brio
Movement 2: Andante lento
Movement 3: Allegro con spirito
Although fundamentally a monothematic work, this concerto incorporates a range of musical styles, or ‘densities’, that can be seen as broadly representative of Williamson’s eclectic musical language. His encounters with the music of George Gershwin and Richard Rodgers, for example, are evident in the exuberant outer movements (marked Allegro con brio and Allegro con spirito, respectively) with their lively, syncopated rhythms and catchy melodies. Simultaneously, the crisp, transparent textures and rhythmic inflections in these movements reflect the influence of Stravinsky and Bartók. In fact, one of the themes in the final movement quotes the finale of Stravinsky’s Firebird directly, a particularly apt borrowing given that the concerto was composed exactly fifty years after the ballet was written and premiered. In contrast, the central Andante lento movement is more introspective and reflective; it opens with a solemn canon for the strings before ushering in a poignant chant-like theme, which was perhaps inspired by the Jewish heritage of the work’s dedicatee, Elaine Goldberg, a talented pianist and the cousin of Williamson’s wife, Dolly.
from notes by Carolyn Philpott © 2014