- Orchestral/Large Orchestra
First written in 1974, revised in 2004
"My wife and I spent the summer of 1974 as guests of the Brahms-Gesellschaft in Baden-Baden, occupying the studio apartment of the house in Maximilianstrasse where Brahms spent his summer months between 1864 and 1873. Clara Schumann had lived close by. For me, the experience of living where Brahms had lived, and walking roads that were not so much changed from his time, was inspiring; and it was there that I completed the draft version of my Cello Concerto, written in homage to Brahms.
The Cello Concerto is built around the fifth movement of Brahms's German Requiem: the soprano solo 'Ihr habt nun Traurigkeit' ('You now are sorrowful...') – a movement inserted somewhat later into the main body of the work, and most probably prompted by the death of the composer's mother early in 1865. My third movement merges quotations from that movement of the German Requiem into its own texture – thereby linking it back to the opening of the first movement, with its powerfully repeated low B flats above which the cello weaves first a determined expanding melodic line, and then later a gentler, broadly ascending phrase which is a transformed anticipation of Brahms's soprano solo.
The central movement of the three is a scherzo, largely in animated pianissimo: a flight of midsummer madness which I imagine Mendelssohn might achieve more effectively were he still here, and which represents a favourite challenge of mine – to keep the pulse steady and the momentum airborne as long as possible!
The Cello Concerto is dedicated to Raphael Wallfisch, who gave the work its first BBC broadcast performance in March 1979 and now returns to a slightly revised score, over thirty years later, with unblemished commitment."