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Sinfonia concertante in F sharp major
1958/62; for piano, three trumpets and string orchestra; dedicated to Dolly Williamson; first performed in Glasgow by Julian Dawson and the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra under Norman Del Mar in May 1964

'Williamson: The Complete Piano Concertos' (CDA68011/2)
Williamson: The Complete Piano Concertos
Buy by post £20.00 CDA68011/2  2CDs   Studio Master FLAC & ALAC downloads available
Movement 1: Crotchet = 76
Movement 2: Andante lento
Movement 3: Presto

Sinfonia concertante in F sharp major
Williamson composed the Sinfonia concertante in F sharp major between 1958 and 1962 and originally intended it to be his Symphony No 2 (Laudes); however, the concertante-like nature of the solo piano and trumpet trio pitted against the string orchestra, as well as the comparative brevity of the work, led to a reconsideration of the title. As with the first symphony, each movement of the proposed second originally carried a religious superscription on the manuscript: ‘Gloria in excelsis Deo’, ‘Salve Regina’, and ‘Gloria Patri’, respectively. Williamson dedicated the work to his wife, Dolly, and it was premiered in May 1964 in Glasgow by pianist Julian Dawson and the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra conducted by Norman Del Mar. One of Williamson’s more ‘serious’ or introspective works, it is characteristic of his compositional language in its employment of serial devices within a tonal framework, as well as in its tight thematic organization and rhythmic vitality.

The sonata-form first movement opens with a chant-like motif which is played by the piano in octaves and supported by sustained chords from the trumpets. This motif, which sounds out the syllabic pattern of the original subtitle ‘Gloria in excelsis Deo’, contains the principal material for the entire work. The strings join the texture in the percussive section that follows, which bears a striking similarity to the ‘Danse des adolescentes’ from Stravinsky’s Le sacre du Printemps (1911–13) in its emphatic off-beats and static harmonies. The chant-like theme is inverted to form the quieter second subject and in the recapitulation the thematic material of the exposition appears in reverse order. The slow movement, Andante lento, is in 3/8 throughout and presents its material in one lengthy melodic arc—beginning with muted strings and gradually building to a powerful climax for the full ensemble, before decreasing in volume and intensity to bring the movement to a tranquil conclusion. The finale, marked Presto, is the longest movement and is essentially a rondo, with variations to its recurring material. Like the first movement, it is highly rhythmic and reiterates the tonality of F sharp, as well as making reference to the ‘Gloria in excelsis Deo’ motif. Following a restless piano cadenza, the work draws to a close with an extended coda, in which the ‘Gloria in excelsis Deo’ motif again reigns supreme.

from notes by Carolyn Philpott © 2014

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Details for CDA68011/2 disc 2 track 6
Andante lento
Recording date
20 April 2013
Recording venue
Federation Concert Hall, Hobart, Tasmania, Australia
Recording producer
Ben Connellan
Recording engineer
Veronika Vincze
Hyperion usage
  1. Williamson: The Complete Piano Concertos (CDA68011/2)
    Disc 2 Track 6
    Release date: March 2014
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