James Hook’s clarinet concerto was never published. It survives in the composer’s autograph score, once in the collection of W H Cummings and now in the Nanki Library, Tokyo. It is dated 1812 and was probably written for the concerts at Vauxhall Gardens; Hook was resident organist and composer there for forty-six summers, from 1774 until 1820. The work is still basically in the galant style, though the clarinet-writing is much more elaborate and wide-ranging than Mahon’s, with frequent forays into the chalumeau register, and the slow movement has a Beethovenian sense of drama, contrasting severe string tuttis with more mellifluous solos in a way that is oddly similar to the slow movement of Beethoven’s fourth piano concerto. Hook returned to a more conventional and old-fashioned idiom for the virtuoso finale, though there are some pleasing and original textures in the last episode, where the clarinet’s arpeggios accompany a series of village band imitations in the orchestra.
from notes by Peter Holman © 1997