The Concerto in D minor for flute and strings was composed in 1937, probably at the suggestion of Boosey & Hawkes, as a companion piece for the Concerto for Oboe and Strings which they had published in the same year and which had enjoyed considerable success. If Boughton had a particular soloist in mind (the Oboe Concerto had been written for his daughter Joy Boughton) it was probably John Francis, who had been part of the orchestra at the Bath Festival in 1935. (John Francis married the harpsichordist Millicent Silver and their daughter is Sarah Francis.) Whatever the circumstances of its origins (and no specific ‘first’ performance has been recorded) there can be no doubt that Boughton intended a thoroughly virtuosic challenge both to the soloist and to the orchestra. The first and last of the three movements follow traditional forms – sonata and rondo respectively – though with a rhapsodic freedom that neatly sidesteps the predictable. The thematic material is bold and uncompromising and firmly rooted in folksong. However, it is in the second movement that Boughton’s imaginative powers show themselves most clearly. Here, a melody of great sweetness and simplicity is framed by passionate flute arabesques built on a sequence of chords that trace a rising scale, part tonal, part modal, of Boughton’s own devising. The effect is that of a shaft of sunlight momentarily piercing the mist; a sudden, brief revelation of unexpected beauty and serenity.
from notes by Michael Hurd © 2000