Samuel Wesley mixes elements of the Baroque and Classical styles in an effective way in his D major Concerto of 1781. It is the second of seven violin concertos he wrote between 1779 and 1785 for the concerts he organized with his brother Charles in the family house in Chesterfield Street, Marylebone; Wesley was just fifteen at the time. It contains some extremely taxing solo writing, with high positions and elaborate double stops, while the first movement is an assured example of mature Classical concerto form—though, at more than 350 bars, it also shows that he had not yet learned when to stop! The slow movement has some attractive ethereal passages for three solo violins, while the helter-skelter finale is delightfully sure-footed. From time to time Wesley throws in a cheeky quotation from the march in Gluck’s La rencontre imprévue
(1764), known in German as Die Pilgrimme von Mecca
, which Mozart used as the basis of a set of piano variations. It is not clear how he came across the theme, for Gluck’s opera does not seem to have been produced or published in London.
from notes by Peter Holman © 1996