James Hook was born in Norwich in 1746 and came to London in the early 1760s, quickly becoming a prolific and successful composer in theatres, public concerts and pleasure gardens. He was the first English composer to write keyboard concertos in the full-blown galant style popularized in England by J C Bach’s Op 1 (1763) and Op 7 (1770). Hook published his Op 1 soon after, probably in 1771, and followed J C Bach in laying them out ‘for Harpsichord or Forte-Piano’ with parts for two violins and bass. However, there are a number of places in the outer movements of the Hook D major Concerto that seem to call for more varied colours, so I have provided parts for flutes and horns, using as a model the wind parts that survive in manuscript for some of J C Bach’s Op 7, or the ad libitum parts for flutes and horns in some of the Philip Hayes concertos. Hook was a notable early exponent of the piano and is known to have played a concerto on one in 1768. The earliest English pianos were small squares, but around 1770 Americus Backers began to make more powerful grands. The D major Concerto is an accomplished and expansive work, with a delightful slow movement in cavatina style with pizzicato accompaniment, and a rondo in the fashionable Scots idiom, with strong hints of bagpipes.
from notes by Peter Holman © 1994
1.Audio tour Treasures from the Royal Collection: The Queen's Gallery, Buckingham Palace, London